Cook Hotel

Downtown Rochester

Cook Hotel

Rochester, Minnesota 55902, United States

Created By: History Center of Olmsted County


Built in 1969 by John R. Cook, the Cook Hotel was a majestic four-story structure at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Zumbro Street. Cook’s First National Bank occupied the northeast corner of the first floor with an entrance onto Broadway while the hotel’s entrance was on Zumbro Street. Also known as the Cook House, the establishment may have been a bit too majestic for a city on the edge of the prairie. With amenities rivaling hotels in New York or Chicago, the Cook house gained a reputation as a white elephant, a bit too posh for visiting salesmen or grain farmers.

In 1887, John Kahler became the hotel’s manager. Kahler cultivated a friendship with two young local doctors, William and Charles Mayo. The hotel became the center of Rochester society, and John Kahler was soon directing an expansion and redecorating of the already plush hotel. Described as having high-ceiling rooms with white marble fireplaces and interminable long corridors, the Cook Hotel was a popular travel destination for decades. When John Kahler left in 1906 to open his own hotel, he took the Mayo’s Brother’s business with him. The Cook Hotel would never be the same.

Fire alarms rang out in the early morning of February 3, 1947, as 105 guests filed out of the Cook Hotel. There was no panic; in fact, some of the guests packed their bags before leaving. Although the fire was confined to a corner of the top floor, smoke and water damage would necessitate removal of the top two floors before a new roof could be added.

Two years later, after the First National Bank moved from its home of 80 years, the remnants of the once majestic Cook Hotel were razed to make way for a new F.W. Woolworths store.

History Center of Olmsted County

This point of interest is part of the tour: Downtown Rochester


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