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Mayo looks to demo Traveler's building

Mayo looks to demo Traveler's building

Mayo Clinic is taking the first steps toward clearing the site of the former Traveler’s Hotel, 426 Second Street Southwest, in downtown Rochester.

The clinic said Friday that it plans to challenge the property’s status as a potential landmark under the city’s preservation ordinance. If the appeal is granted, Mayo plans to demolish the building, which dates back a century.

Mayo is scheduled to make its case against a historic designation during next Tuesday’s meeting of the Heritage Preservation Commission.

“Mayo Clinic appreciates the role the HPC plays in ensuring preservation of historically significant properties that reflect the community’s unique history,” said Mayo spokesperson Kelley Luckstein. “We share that commitment as reflected through the preservation of significant Mayo Clinic historic properties in Rochester. In this case, we do not believe that the former Traveler’s Hotel is historically significant.”

Mayo purchased the Traveler’s site in 2001 for $1.7 million. The property remained functional as a hotel until 2016. The building has sat empty since and Mayo has not revealed any specific plans for the site.

A brief history

The Traveler’s Hotel site is actually comprised of two separate buildings that were connected in the 1980s.

The easternmost building, which was once the "Reiter Hotel,” was constructed in 1920 by Julius J. Reiter. Not only did Reiter develop the property, but he also lived on site. According to historical records, Reiter was a prominent figure in Rochester politics. First elected to the city council in 1899, Reiter would go on to serve five terms as mayor between 1907-1933.

The westernmost building, the "Beverly,” went up about a decade later. The developer, Rochester hotelier Billy Friedell, named the building after his daughter’s favorite movie star, Beverly Bayne. Friedell rented rooms to women working as nurses at Mayo Clinic.

(There is more info on the property’s history in the agenda packet for Tuesday’s HPC meeting. You can view those materials here.)

Old Lourdes site

In addition to the Traveler’s site, Mayo is also expected to address the status of the old Lourdes High School, 621 West Center Street.

Mayo purchased the property and associated parking lot in 2013 after the school relocated to a brand new building in northwest Rochester.

The parking lot is used by Mayo staff, though the building remains vacant.

Luckstein said Mayo will support adding the original 1940s portion of the property to the potential landmark list. However, it will challenge the status of later additions to the structure — completed in 1958 and 1986 — “based on structural and historical significance.”

According to a review of the property, the original architectural design of the 1941 section has been preserved along with its historic material.

The status of both the Traveler’s building and the Lourde’s site will be reviewed by the HPC next Tuesday, 5 p.m., in room 104 of City Hall.

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