Mayo Clinic closed some doors this week and it seems like a big deal for some reason? What’s the story? -- Doorknob, Med City newcomer

Ah, my dear Knob, that is a reasonable question that shows you do not work for Mother Mayo.

The gigantic bronze doors created by Carlo Briosch on the Plummer Building have acquired a mythological reputation since the building opened 92 years ago. That’s understandable given all of the symbolic and mythic images displayed on the 4,000 pound doors.

The doors, presumably due to their weight, are not often closed. Somewhere in history shutting the Plummer Building’s front doors became a ceremonial way to mark a moment in history. Including this latest closure (and re-opening) this week, the doors have been closed at 11 documented (which means Mayo isn’t sure they might have not recorded some closures) time since 1928.

Here’s the breakdown of the history, thanks to Heather Carlson Kehren and Mayo Clinic historians.

  • Jan. 2, 1937: Closed for the funeral of Dr. Henry S. Plummer, the doctor who designed the building, Mayo’s first pneumatic tubes and many other things.

  • May 29, 1939: Closed for the funeral of Dr. Charles H. Mayo.

  • July 30, 1939: Closed for the funeral of Dr. William J. Mayo.

  • July 28, 1963: Closed for the funeral of Dr. Donald C. Balfour Sr.

  • Nov. 25,1963: Closed in the wake of the assination of President Kennedy.

  • July 31, 1968: Closed for the funeral of Dr. Charles W. Mayo.

  • Feb. 18, 1978: Closed for the funeral of Harry J. Harwick.

  • Sept. 14, 2001: Closed for the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the 9/11 attacks.

  • Jan. 9, 2012: Closed for the memorial service for Dr. Luis F. Bonilla and David W. Hines, Mayo Clinic helicopter crew who died in a December 2011 crash.

  • Oct. 18, 2016: Memorial service for Sister Generose Gervais.

  • July 29-30, 2020: Closed against racism and opened to a more just and equitable future.


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