Mayowood sets table for 27th annual Christmas tours

Heather Carlson,

Kay Caskey decorates a table at Mayowood on Tuesday.

Christmas tours

Tickets for the Mayowood Mansion Christmas Tours are $15 for adults and $5 for children age 12 and under. Tickets are available at the Olmsted County Historical Center, 1195 West Circle Drive S.W. in Rochester. For a list of tour times, visit the center’s Web site, Private tours for groups of 25 or more can be arranged by calling 282-9447.

By Heather J. Carlson


While Christmas is still weeks away, Kay Caskey is already at work setting the table for an elaborate holiday meal.

For 27 years, she has been among the hundreds of volunteers who descend on Rochester’s historic Mayowood Mansion, turning it into a Christmas wonderland.

"I love it," Caskey said, while carefully arranging a winter scene complete with fake snow and bundled-up walkers.

Apparently, so does Rochester. Every year, the Mayowood Mansion Christmas Tours attract swarms of visitors eager to see the newly decorated rooms, said Barb Dahlin, coordinator of the Christmas tours.

"We have several thousand visitors each year for the Christmas tours," she said. "It’s become a Rochester tradition."

That tradition returns Nov. 7. Visitors will get the chance to explore more than 20 rooms decorated by local clubs, businesses and individuals. Each of the rooms has its own Christmas theme. Some of this year’s themes include a room decked out with elves and a Charles Dickens-inspired dining room.

The Mayowood Mansion was built in 1911 by Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of Mayo Clinic. In 1965, the Mayo family donated the 38-room home to the Olmsted County Historical Society and it is now a Minnesota Historic Site.


Scheduled tours are offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 23. Visitors should allow for two hours. Light refreshments will be served and a gift shop will be open in the gallery. Money raised from the tours goes to the history center and helps support the mansion’s upkeep.

Dahlin encourages anyone who has not been on the tour to check it out.

She added, "You can get wonderful decorating ideas and you can get in the holiday spirit."

For more information, go to

History Center of Olmsted County

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