Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hotel Keys - The Zumbro Hotel

Greetings!  Today's key takes us back to another hotel no longer in existence, while also taking me back into my past.  This key comes from the Zumbro Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, which happens to be my hometown.

When the Zumbro was built in 1912, it was a necessity for a rapidly growing town.  Rochester's history is tied directly to the Mayo Clinic, the world-class hospital that calls Rochester home.  William Worrall Mayo, who served as a surgeon during the Civil War, ended up starting Saint Mary's Hospital in 1883 as a response to a devastating tornado that decimated the city.  As his sons William and Charles graduated medical school, they joined him back home.  From there, the Mayo family expanded the hospital into a group practice, collaborating with other notable doctors of the time to found the Mayo Clinic.  It innovated at the time by having many of the region's best doctors, attracting large amounts of patients and helping advance medicine.

Charles, William Worrall, and William James Mayo

Of course, with an increasing number of visitors to the hospital, the demand for lodging in the town increased.  The Zumbro was built in 1912 to capitalize on that demand.  Founded by local hotel magnate John Kahler, the Zumbro took advantage of a centralized location downtown near the clinic to attract guests.  The hotel bragged about other amenities, including "most rooms with private baths" and special rates at a nearby golf course.  The original hotel started with 125 rooms, and was expanded only 4 years later to keep up with demand.  The construction of the clinic's Plummer Building in 1927 saw the Zumbro construct a subway to connect the two buildings - a necessity during the cold Minnesota winters!

Postcard of the Zumbro Hotel

Eventually, with Kahler's hotel empire continuing to expand in the city, the Zumbro began to be known as the Kahler Zumbro Hotel.  Kahler's name, because of the city's Kahler Grand Hotel, was becoming more well-known, so attaching his name to the Zumbro was an attempt to keep it relevant.  Unfortunately for the Zumbro, the changing times became the hotel's downfall.  The Kahler Corporation decided to tear it down in 1987 to replace it with a new hotel.

The Zumbro (top), with the Plummer Building (middle), and the current location (bottom)

Today's downtown Rochester has no shortage of hotels and hospital buildings - its skyline has many exceptionally large buildings for a city of about 100,000.  The Zumbro's significance lives on in the other hotels and medical buildings in the area, representing the continued cooperation between the Mayo Clinic and their 1.3 million annual patients.

Downtown Rochester as seen from my most recent trip to the city

As with the other keys in our blog, the Zumbro room key can be seen by visiting us here in the key museum!