In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 7, 2014

A Little Recognition for a Big Anniversary

By In the Loop

A miniature scale model of an exam room from the 1914 Mayo Clinic Building is the centerpiece of a historical display. We're not math geniuses, but we weren’t surprised to learn that this year is the 100th anniversary of the original 1914 Mayo Clinic Building in Rochester. We typically count on our friend Matt Dacy, director of Heritage Hall, to alert us to these sorts of things, and he was more than willing, what with this being Heritage Days. This year, amidst the ice cream socials and movie debuts that usually catch our attention, Mayo is celebrating milestone anniversaries of Mayo buildings with a display in the Mathews Grand Lobby of today’s Mayo Building.

As part of that display, Cheryl Ashelin, Creative Media, created a miniature scale model of one of the earliest Mayo exam rooms -- from the building that opened its doors in 1914 on the site of today's Siebens Building. Inside, you'll find one of the world's tiniest exam tables, along with a roll-top desk, and other accoutrements, including replicas of the Mayo brothers’ medical diplomas. Outside the door, you’ll see semaphore signals that were forerunners of the lights outside of today’s exam rooms. "Think of it as recognizing a big anniversary in a small way," Dacy quips. (Mini groans all around.) 

Ashelin tells us the idea came from her colleague Matt Evans, who's a member of the Heritage Days committee. “He knew that I enjoy making and collecting scale miniatures,” she says. Evans located a black-and-white photo of an exam room in the building, which they used as the basis for the replica. Renee Ziemer of Mayo’s Historical Unit helped Ashelin track down articles about the 1914 Building, which helped her determine the size of the exam room. Since the photo was black-and-white, Ashelin says she can’t be sure of the color of the walls, floor, couch and such, but “because the Plummer Building was built during the same era,” she based her work on that building’s décor.

“I hit the jackpot when we toured the Methodist-Kahler School of Nursing archives” in the Colonial Building, Ashelin says. “They had an exam table used during that era. So I was able to take measurements of the table and build it true to scale.” Hilary Lane, History of Medicine Library, showed her medical books from that period so she could recreate them in miniature. “You’ll see a couple of the books on the desk … Gray's Anatomy and Dietetics Essentials,” she says. Since we let Dacy crack wise, we must include Ashelin’s comment that folks like her who enjoy “dollhouse miniatures” do, in fact, “sweat the small stuff.”

Ashelin says a couple things surprised her during the creative process. “If you compare the 1914 exam room with those of today, they are very similar and have been through the years,” she says. (And she has the photos to back that up.) “I was also surprised to find out that Dr. Plummer had a lot to do with this building, too. That early system he had by the door is still used in some form today … as well as the phone system you see on the desk.”

The display, which includes the mini exam room as well as architectural artifacts salvaged from the building, along with behind-the-scenes information about the names of various buildings, continues through Friday, Oct. 10.

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More photos of the scale model below.

A mini roll-top desk from a scale model of the 1914 Mayo Clinic Building.
Semaphore signs from a scale model of the 1914 Mayo Clinic Building.

The interior of an exam room from a scale model of the 1914 Mayo Clinic Building.

Tags: Employee Stories

This is amazing! How cool that we are keeping our rich history alive! Thank you, In The Loop editors, for your always interesting, heart-warming, and entertaining stories.

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