First Kahler Hotel (Damon Hotel)

Downtown Rochester

First Kahler Hotel (Damon Hotel)

Rochester, Minnesota 55902, United States

Created By: History Center of Olmsted County


Rochester’s first Kahler Hotel was created out of the lovely Victorian home of Elliott Ainsworth and Ella Rebecca (Blake) Knowlton. Purchased in 1889 from J.D. Blake, Ella’s brother and Elliott’s business partner, the three-story brick residence had an impressive turret, an elegant front porch, a variety of decorative brackets and corbels, impressively tall chimneys, and a widow’s walk with intricate ironwork. It was known simply as “Knowlton House.” Neighbors took great pride in the beautiful home and its well-manicured yard. When the Rochester Sanitarium Company bought it in the summer of 1906, residents lamented the loss of the lovely private home. Editors of the local paper wrote sadly about the end of the stately mansion and beautifully landscaped lawn. The Kahler Hotel opened in 1907. It had 95 rooms. John H. Kahler was general manager and lead physician was Dr. John E. Crewe. The hotel catered to upper class patients who wanted private care. Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo sometimes performed surgeries on the third floor. One of its amenities was a bright and spacious first floor lounge, which was highlighted by over four dozen large windows. Wing additions were added in 1910 and 1913. It was also an entertainment venue and had a barber shop and retail stores. When the new Kahler Hotel opened in 1921, it became the Damon Hotel, named for Hattie Damon Mayo. The Damon Hotel ended its hospital function in 1926 and housed the Kahler School of Nursing for several years before closing in 1960.

History Center of Olmsted County

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


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