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Answer Man: Mayo Clinic adds splash of color

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Dear Answer Man, I drive past Rochester now and then and rarely go into downtown. Lately, I've noticed that orange-colored building on the skyline. It definitely looks like something non-Mayo. What is it?

What an easy question to start my week. That's the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center , at 565 First St. S.W., and while it doesn't match the clinic's melange of gray and off-gray buildings, it's very much a part of the Mayo empire. As it's gone up in stories over the past several months, the Dan has added a badly needed splash of color to the Rochester skyline, especially when viewed from the west at dusk.

As part of the Destination Medical Center rule book, can we please have a broader color palette for major downtown buildings? Something other than gray, white and very pale yellow?

For the record, Dan Abraham is the founder of Slim-Fast Foods. The Mayo-employee health center opened its doors in 2007, and four years later, work began on the four-story addition that features patient care facilities and the expanded Sports Medicine Center . The latter is to open next spring.

How old is Mayo Clinic?

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Because I'm never satisfied -- never! -- until I get to the bottom of a mystery, I'll add this to the record about Mayo Clinic's age.

The clinic has made a determined push recently to claim that it's 150 years old, more ancient than just about any other medical facility in the U.S. I've gently pointed out that most reasonable historians would say it's closer to 120 years old, when the doctors grew the practice to include a few specialists and create a truly unique, historic institution. The problem is, there's no clear corporate date for that happening. I've arbitrarily declared that 1892 is a respectable guess.

Well, here's one more piece of evidence that shows how Mayo's antiquity is debatable: The website for the Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. agency says Mayo was founded in 1914. That happens to be when a building on First Avenue Southwest and First Street was constructed, and it came to be called "Mayo Clinic's first building," even on Mayo's website.

That modest building was demolished to make room for Mayo's Siebens Building -- another of those mostly gray and glass structures. Historic preservationists argued for keeping that landmark of clinic history, but as in most cases locally, the preservationists were squashed.

You can see why this is an interesting parlor game.

There's no nest like home

Here's an update from an eagle-eyed reader:

"Your paper has reported about the eagle family and their nest along West River Road a few times over the years. The eagles inhabit a site on the Zumbro River just across from the mink farm on 55th Street Northwest. Their nest fell a few months ago during a terrible wind storm. I've been watching them for years, and last year, they had a newborn for the first time. The young one is quite large already. I thought the family would move on once their large nest was destroyed, but they started to rebuild last month in the same tree, just a branch away from their prior nest.

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"Just goes to show that around the holidays, there's no place like home." -- Jim Alker

This column just goes to show, there's no one like the Answer Man. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or answerman@postbulletin.com .

Related Topics: MAYO CLINIC
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