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Modern dream for the future of health care

The spot where the Gonda Building now stands has long been seen as a great place for a hospital.

kahler hospital.jpg
Artist conception of the Kahler Corperation's 18-story 1,200-bed hospital planned for post war downtown Rochester. Today the Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building occupies this block.
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Kahler Corporation president Roy Watson had big dreams for the future. On August 3, 1943, Watson unveiled plans for an 18-story 1,200-bed hospital to be built in downtown Rochester. With a streamline design created by the Ellerbe Company, it would be among the largest private business post-war projects in the state.

The first four floors would cover a major portion of the block just west of the Hotel Kahler. The remaining 14 floors would rise in an “H” pattern that would provide a glass-enclosed sun porch on each floor with a southern exposure. The hospital would be connected to the Mayo Clinic, Hotel Kahler and Franklin Heating Station via underground tunnels.

The new facility would allow the Colonial Hospital building and the top three floors of the Hotel Kahler to return to its original design as hotel space, creating room for 400 visitors.

Some dreams never come to fruition.

"Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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