Wonders from the Past

Four sites in Rochester, MN that bring history to life

With an identity firmly rooted in innovation and caring, Rochester's remarkable past springs to life at several renowned historical sites. Discover the city's fascinating heritage--including the story of Mayo Clinic and its founders--at four architecturally renowned historical landmarks. No matter how long or short your visit is, these noteworthy sites are worth the stop.


Plummer Building

A quick glance at the Rochester skyline might cause one to say the tower of the Plummer Building belongs in a European city because of its ornate tiles and decorations. Built in the late 1920s, the Plummer Building is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is named for Henry S. Plummer, M.D., one of the founders of Mayo Clinic and the man responsible for much of the medical record and registration systems still used by Mayo Clinic today. When it first opened, the 15-story building housed medical specialties along with an impressive library for medical research. Today the building is an iconic symbol of Mayo Clinic. During your visit, make sure to look for the sculptured image caricatures on the lower levels of the building's exterior and the always-open, 16-foot bronze doors that only close for national tragedies or solemn events.

Plummer Building in downtown Rochester, MNPlummer Building | TJ Turner


Assisi Heights

Anyone who has seen photos of Assisi, Italy, will immediately notice the architectural similarities in Assisi Heights Spirituality Center , with its square towers, light-colored stone and large, beautiful courtyards. The difference, of course, is that Assisi Heights was built in the 1950s--not 1253 A.D., like the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. Assisi Heights is the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis in Rochester, who in 1889 co-founded (with the Mayo family) Saint Marys Hospital, which would eventually become Mayo Clinic. While entry into the Assisi Heights building is not permitted at this time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Assisi Heights hosts virtual events year-round and outdoor events at Assisi Heights Canticle Park and surrounding grounds as weather permits. Find the latest information on visitors and events here.

Assisi Heights in Rochester, MNAssisi Heights | TJ Turner

Plummer House

Originally known as Quarry Hill back in the early 1900s, the Plummer House was built by Dr. Henry Plummer (the namesake of Mayo Clinic's Plummer Building) and his wife, Daisy. Consisting of beautiful grounds, formal gardens, a bird trail and a water tower, the 11-acre park is now maintained by the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department. The house, located one mile south of Mayo Clinic, is an English Tudor Mansion with 49 rooms, 10 bathrooms, nine bedrooms and five fireplaces, all built between 1917 and 1924. Tour the house and the grounds every Wednesday in the summer from noon to 6 p.m. -- groups of 10 or more people should arrange a tour with the Parks and Recreation Department.

Plummer House in Rochester, MNPlummer House | TJ Turner

Mayowood Mansion

The 38-room Mayowood Mansion was built in 1911 by Dr. Charles H. Mayo, a co-founder of Mayo Clinic. The mansion was originally situated on an estate of more than 3,000 acres and was occupied by the Mayo family until the 1960s. Currently, Mayo Clinic, the History Center of Olmsted County and Rochester Master Gardeners are collaborating to restore the house and grounds. In warmer months, visitors can tour the home (just a 10-minute drive southwest of Mayo Clinic) and see the extensive art collections, antiques and gorgeous gardens that surround the house. During the holidays, check out the ever-popular Mayowood Mansion Christmas Tours, presented by the History Center of Olmsted County.

Mayowood MansionMayowood Mansion | AB-PHOTOGRAPHY.US


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