Just three years ago, Mayowood — the home that Dr. Charles and Edith Mayo built in 1911 — seemed to be losing its race against Father Time. "The mansion … had fallen into disrepair," the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported in 2014. "There was a five-inch slump in part of the foundation that left windows and doors askew. Water seeped in through windows worse than through the building's also-leaking roof."
But in 2013, Mayo Clinic and the History Center of Olmsted County began a collaborative effort to "renew and restore" the mansion to the way it was when three generations of the Mayo family called it home. Along the way, they also restored a tradition that was a big part of life at Mayowood — the annual chrysanthemum show, which got its roots (pun intended) from Dr. Charlie himself during the 1920s.
"Dr. Charlie had a lot of greenhouses and a whole staff who grew new varieties of mums, which were then named after Mayo family members," Chuck Potter, Mayo Clinic historical properties manager, tells us. "This is something the family did for the community — they'd host the show for a week at a time. There are newspaper articles that talk about there being thousands of visitors who would come out to Mayowood to see it every year."
This year, a special Mayowood Tour & Chrysanthemum Show will be held Saturday, Sept. 26. While it will hold true to being a traditional Mayowood "mum show and home tour," Shawn Pastika, Facilities Project Services, tells us there will also be a few new "family friendly" additions. "This year, we also have music by Les Fields and the Turkey River All-Stars, photo opportunities with life-size cutouts of the Mayo family, and a chance to meet some peregrine falcons and their trainers," he says. "We've also taken on this year's Heritage Days theme of 'Salute to Service' by incorporating that into this year's event, as well."
The Saturday, Sept. 26, show is restricted to Mayo staff, students, volunteers, retirees and their families, and it will be free of charge. (Learn more on the Mayo intranet.) "This is the one opportunity throughout the year for Mayo employees and their families to come out and tour Mayowood at no charge," Potter says. "There's a lot of restoration work that's been done to the home, and that really gives us an opportunity to share what life was like when Charlie and Edith lived there."
There also will be a Chrysanthemum Show hosted by the Friends of Mayowood on Sunday, Sept. 27, that is open to the public at a cost of $10 per person, or $20 per family.
Learn more and watch a multi-media presentation covering 50-plus years of family life at Mayowood and the recent restoration project on the Mayo Clinic History and Heritage website.
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