Holiday Fun: Rochester's Mayowood Mansion

Head south of the cities for some holiday fun and a history lesson in Rochester. Located 90 minutes south of the Twin Cities, Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic and the Mayo family’s historic home, Mayowood Mansion.

The origins of the world-renowed clinic (consistently ranked highly in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals) date back to 1864, when Dr. William Worrall Mayo moved to Rochester. His two sons, William and Charles, joined his practice in the late 1800s. I find the history of the Mayo brothers and their impact on Rochester fascinating, as my family has a strong connection to the city and the clinic itself.

Mayowood MansionMayowood Holiday Tours

Photos courtesy of history center of olmsted county

One place to learn all about this history is at Mayowood. Dr. Charles Mayo created the Mayowood Estate beginning in 1911. The 38-room Mayowood Mansion, and the surrounding 10 acres, were donated to the Olmstead County Historical Society in 1965. The mansion is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This year, Mayowood celebrates its centennial. The historical society has preserved the historic house museum as it was when Charles and his wife resided there.

Ownership of the property will soon transfer to the Mayo Clinic, with the promise that the clinic will invest $3 million into restoration of the property, which was placed on the Most Endangered List for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota in 2011.

Tours of the historic property are offered throughout much of the year. This week, Mayowood’s Christmas tours began. See the house all decked out for the holidays (through Nov. 27) while learning all about the Doctors Mayo.

Make a weekend of it and enjoy all that Rochester has to offer. Need a place to stay? Check out of the Kahler family of hotels. Hungry? Might I suggest Chester’s Kitchen & Bar (Sunday brunch is great) near the Galleria and Zzest Market & Cafe (with its oft-changing menu).

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