The excitement of building a museum to commemorate the center's rich history has begun.
Renaming of Venues
The first phase of the project to honor the center’s founders began in early May, 2018, with the installation of portraits of the Mayo brothers as well as the installation of updated signage displaying the new names of several venues and areas within the center.
- Presentation Hall (which was part of the original structure that opened in 1939) has been renamed the Dr. Charles H. Mayo Presentation Hall.
- The McDonnell Foyer outside Presentation Hall has become the Mayo Family Foyer.
- A reception area adjacent to the foyer has been named the Dr. William J. Mayo Reception Hall.
- Two nearby boardrooms have been renamed the Edith Graham Mayo Boardroom and the Hattie Damon Mayo Boardroom. Edith Graham Mayo was a devoted nurse, mother, and the wife of Dr. Charles H. Mayo. Rochester native Hattie Damon Mayo was a mother, community leader, and the wife of Dr. William J. Mayo.
“We are honored to recognize the amazing contributions of the Mayo family by renaming our most historic venue as well as two boardrooms and the foyer near our front entrance in honor of our founders and their families. When the new, museum-quality historical exhibits are added this summer, this area will be a major attraction for visitors to our center. It’s valuable and important to share the fascinating history and heritage of our center and the Mayo family with all who enter,” said Donna Drews, Executive Director of the Mayo Civic Center.
Creation of Exhibits Will Occur This Summer
The second phase of the project will occur this summer and entail the construction of a Mayo Community Gallery of artifacts and museum-quality displays. The exhibits, which are expected to be complete in September, 2018, will include:
- History of the Mayo family’s civic involvement.
- Background on the gift from Dr. Charles H. Mayo and the Mayo Properties Association that established the Mayo Civic Center.
- The history of the Mayo Civic Center and its relationship to Mayo Clinic.
- A community gallery commemorating the various events that have been held in the center.
Mayo Clinic’s historians have been instrumental in recommending the changes in the names of Mayo Civic Center’s venues, and in creating the exhibits. “The renamed venues and the new Mayo Community Gallery will tell the story of the original gift that created this center, and will honor the legacy of its generous benefactors,” said Matthew Dacy,chair of the Mayo ClinicHeritage Days program, in October, 2017.“We have been delighted to work with the Mayo family and Mayo Civic Center leaders to develop these new tributes. The fascinating history of this center will always be relevant, and we are pleased to shine a light on it.”
The cornerstone for what originally was called the Mayo Civic Auditorium was laid in 1938, and the facility opened in 1939 as a gift to the city by Dr. Charles H. Mayo and Mayo Properties Association (now Mayo Clinic).
At that time, there was a dire need for employment in the community due to the Great Depression, with little work available, and Dr. Charles H. Mayo and Dr. William J. Mayo recognized that many jobs could be created with a large construction project. The Doctors Mayo were also passionate about creating a facility that could serve as a meeting place for Rochester’s citizens, and as a venue in which Rochester’s citizens and thousands of visitors could enjoy concerts, athletic contests, public addresses, and theatrical productions.
Dr. Charles H. Mayo personally contributed $150,000, and Mayo Properties Association (of which Dr. William J. Mayo served as chairperson) contributed the balance of the funds for construction of the facility, which was re-named Mayo Civic Center in 1984.
The gifts by Dr. Charles H. Mayo and the Mayo Properties Association reflected the Mayo Brothers’ unwavering dedication and commitment to supporting and enriching the community and its citizens. Lilli Mayo Weivoda, who is a great-granddaughter of Dr. Charles H. Mayo and great-grandniece of Dr. William J. Mayo, noted in October, 2017: “The Mayo brothers were profoundly civic-minded, visionary, and generous. They loved Rochester and were ‘good neighbors’ to the community. Their legacy and impact live on from generation to generation within the community.”