It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to visit Merry Mayowood.

Tours of the historic house, held by the Olmsted County History Center, ramp up in November and December of each year as volunteers decorate the inside of the home in festive garlands, trees, ornaments, and vintage cards. So naturally, we had to check it out.

Been before? Longtime Mayowood tour guide Nancy Hedger, our guide in early November, said every group is a little different -- volunteers tailor tours to the questions and areas of interest that come up.

No matter when you come for a Mayowood tour, you’re going to get good information on the Mayo family’s daily lives, Hedger said. The Christmas tours just add a little extra sparkle.

“This house, regardless of when you visit, always feels warm and welcoming,” Hedger said. “I think it has to do with the people who lived here, how warm and welcoming and generous they were.”

The Christmas decorations come from the people or organizations that decorate each room, and aren’t original to the house. But they shouldn’t be anachronistic, either. Most decorators use vintage (or vintage-looking) knick-knacks, baubles, and lights to deck the Mayowood halls, Hedger said.

The result? Hundreds of tour reservations that roll in every year from all over the U.S.

“People look forward to it,” Hedger said. “The decorations add a festive touch, and people certainly enjoy that. They come for that!”

Here are some highlights:


Anne writes for Rochester Magazine and the Post Bulletin, and edits 507 Magazine. She hails from Lafayette, Indiana and enjoys reading, tea-drinking, and her cat, Newt Scameownder.