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Optimism was the order of the day when 20th century dawned

There was a mood that the new century would belong to the colossus that America was becoming.

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The 1960 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog held the hopes and dreams for many children. Contributed
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On New Year's Day 1900, Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie Mayo hosted open houses at their side-by-side homes on College Street. In this photograph, Will's house is the white one and Charlie's, the dark one (it was red). What then was College Street is now Fourth Street Southwest.<br/><br/>
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As New Year’s Eve approached, Rochester got ready to party like it’s 1899 -- which in fact it was.

A year, a decade and a century were drawing to a close, and there was a mood across the land, including in Rochester, that the new century would belong to the colossus that America was becoming.

Optimism, tinged with hyperbole, was the order of the day. The No Name Dance at the library on the evening of Dec. 28 “was as pleasant an affair as had occurred during the past year,” according to the Daily Post & Record.

The next night, the library’s hall was taken over by the Catholic Order of Foresters, who gave a dance that featured music by Wellde’s Metropolitan Orchestra. It was reported to be an equally pleasant affair.

That same evening, Count G.K. Boyajian conducted a “grand Oriental entertainment in four languages” at the Baptist Church. Fifteen dancers in costumes portrayed a number of exotic scenes, including a Turkish wedding and procession. The count, who was said to be Armenian, presented the program under the auspices of the Christian Endeavor Society, with proceeds from ticket sales (25 cents each) going to missionary work.

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Then on Dec. 31 came the final hours of the old year. At midnight, a High Mass was celebrated at St. John’s Catholic Church. The sermon was a recounting of historic highlights of the past 100 years, which explains why congregants were not able to exit into the cold night air until 1:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, over at the Methodist Church, a “watch night” meeting was held to welcome in the new year. “Throughout the long services the faithful who were there wearied not, but stayed to witness the passing of the old and the incoming of the new year,” the newspaper reported.

On New Years’ Day, the stage show “Old Uncle Jed,” billed as “a wholesome, rural comedy,” was presented at the Opera House. “The many trials and laughable situations of the ruralite are faithfully portrayed,” said the Post & Record.

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For the more highbrow element of society, though, the major event of the day was the annual open house hosted by Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo in their side-by-side homes on College Street.

At Dr. Will’s house, invited guests were greeted at the door, and escorted past the fragrant flowers and potted plants to the library. “Here the gentlemen were relieved of their wraps,” before being served lunch to the accompaniment of music by the Mandolin Club. As they later headed out the door, each guest was given “a pretty souvenir which was pinned to the lapel of his coat.”

Next door, at Dr. Charlie’s residence, the hospitality was equally gracious, and, reported the newspaper, “a prettier scene would be difficult to imagine.”

Some of the visitors left and headed, no doubt, to the Rochester City Council meeting which was being held on the holiday because, well, because it was Monday, the regular meeting day.

Others went home to relax and get ready for work in a new century. For Drs. Will and Charlie, the first work day of 1900 would start with office hours at 8 a.m. and continue until their downtown office closed at 8 p.m. According to an ad placed in the newspaper, “Patients will please observe (these) hours as far as possible.”
Thomas Weber is a former Post Bulletin reporter who enjoys writing about local history.

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Then and Now - Thomas Tom Weber col sig
Then and Now - Thomas Tom Weber col sig

Thomas Weber is a former Post Bulletin reporter who enjoys writing about local history.
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