Home will be open for Christmas
Historic Mayowood Mansion will be open for Christmas tours next month, despite ongoing restoration work that will not be completed before next year.
"Our goal is that the dining room will be open and the chandelier will be hung for the Christmas tours," said Bruce Rohde, Mayo Clinic's project manager for Mayowood.
That's good news for James Lundgren, executive director of the History Center of Olmsted County, which conducts the popular annual tours. "Our first tour is Nov. 2," Lundgren said Tuesday while checking on progress of the work at Mayowood.
The initial $3 million of restoration work at Mayowood is being done as part of an agreement signed earlier this year that transfers ownership of the historic home of Dr. Charles H. Mayo to Mayo Clinic. The property had been donated by the Mayo family to the Olmsted County Historical Society in 1965.
The major portion of the work is being done at the northwest corner of the building, which was sagging, and on the patio, which has been damaged over the decades by water and ice. Stucco and window repair is also under way. Interior work will have to wait until next year, Rohde said.
The first priority, he said, was to make the building water-tight and critter-proof.
Then, said Rohde, "We needed to get to a place where we would have a proper foundation. We really believe we have that now. We can bring the house back to the condition of certainly the '60s, and even before that."
Much of the work to date could be classified as maintenance, Rohde said.
"I'm amazed," Lundgren said of the progress so far. "We're very pleased with what's going on. If there wasn't anything done, there was a real possibility the house would be lost."
Work so far has uncovered a few surprises, including what Rohde described as a 1920s-era man cave, with piano and fireplace, in the lower level of the tea house.
Under the ownership agreement, the history center will have use of the property for up to 160 days per year for tours and other events. The clinic also plans to use Mayowood for receptions and events.
Work to restore and improve the property will take several years, Rohde said. "It's a five-year-plus endeavor," he said.