January 1961: Damon Hotel Fire #ThrowbackThursday

In 1961, there was a historic hotel, the Damon Hotel, across from Mayo Clinic. On December 21, 1961, the hotel caught fire early in the morning. No one was injured, and smoke damage to adjacent buildings was kept to a minimum, but firemen had to fight the stubborn blaze for hours in below-zero weather before bringing it entirely under control.

1961 Damon Hotel fire. Photo by Louis Nichols.

What caused it? Most probably, despite the precautions, some phase of the wrecking operation deep inside the building. Not entirely ruled out, however, is the possibility that persons prowling the building might have been responsible (theft of salvage at the Damon had been reported a few days prior to the fire).


In addition to city firemen—“who did their usual excellent job under difficult conditions”—the Building Committee expressed gratitude to others for their efforts during the emergency.

Key Mayo maintenance personnel hurried downtown to guard against such possibilities as smoke infiltrating into Mayo buildings. General Service and Custodial staff joined Kahler employees in sand-bagging a blocked-off former entryway to the Damon that might have flooded the subway areas.

Alyssa Frank (@alyssafrank)

Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She leads marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.