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Although Rochester was founded in 1854, its defining moments didn’t come until August 21, 1883, when the “Great Tornado” devastated much of the town and killed 30 people. The disaster prompted the Sisters of St. Francis to establish a hospital, which was staffed by Dr. William W. Mayo and his two sons. That hospital grew into the complex that has become one of the most highly respected medical facilities in the world, and a tourist attraction as well. An Art and Architecture tour, as well as several other guided and self-guiding tours of the Mayo campus are available on a regular basis. Tours of Mayowood Mansion, the Mayo family home for ...

Although Rochester was founded in 1854, its defining moments didn’t come until August 21, 1883, when the “Great Tornado” devastated much of the town and killed 30 people. The disaster prompted the Sisters of St. Francis to establish a hospital, which was staffed by Dr. William W. Mayo and his two sons. That hospital grew into the complex that has become one of the most highly respected medical facilities in the world, and a tourist attraction as well. An Art and Architecture tour, as well as several other guided and self-guiding tours of the Mayo campus are available on a regular basis. Tours of Mayowood Mansion, the Mayo family home for three generations, are also offered. Other guided walking tours include those that focus on the elegant old homes on Pill Hill, many of which were designed by architect Frank Ellerbe and his son. The Rochester Art Center, with works by Alexander Calder, Salvidor Dali and Louis Nevelson ranks as one of the finest small contemporary arts museums in the country. Other popular attractions include Quarry Hill Nature Center with its 1,700-gallon fish tank, indoor beehive and birdwatching room; the 19th century Heritage House; 49-room Plummer House; the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial, and the Olmstead County History Center. Among Rochester’s less well-known treasures are the magnificent stained glass windows at Calvary Episcopal Church – three of them created by Tiffany. With more than a dozen cultural organizations, including the Rochester Repertory Theatre, the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Masque Youth Theatre and Bella Voce Young Women’s Choir, the city’s cultural life thrives, too.

Connie Emerson
About the Expert

Connie Emerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Cheapskate's Guide to Branson, Missouri and Eyewitness Top Ten Travel Guide – Las Vegas.

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Connie Emerson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April through September; year-round for cultural performances