September 1951: Mayo Clinic’s Watchmen #ThrowbackThursday

While seldom seen by most, the Mayo Clinic watchmen filled an important function in the protection and security of the Mayo Clinic in the 1950s.

They watch by night. At left, Mack Ravenhorst and Juel Berg check the chart recorder. Through electrical impulses, this chart records the “punching” of clocks located on the various floors, from basement to seventeenth floor. At right, Caryl Zeller and Otto Hubin, watchmen supervisor, check the automatic sprinkler system which protects a part of the building.
They watch by night. At left, Mack Ravenhorst and Juel Berg check the chart recorder. Through electrical impulses, this chart records the “punching” of clocks located on the various floors, from basement to seventeenth floor. At right, Caryl Zeller and Otto Hubin, watchmen supervisor, check the automatic sprinkler system, which protects a part of the building.

Little was known of the activities of these night-time guardians, yet through their vigilance and constant effort, Mayo had maintained an excellent record in such matters as the protection against thievery, looting, and the willful destruction of property. The vast stores of supplies, the hundreds of pieces of technical apparatus, the tools and devices—all of these received careful attention over the years.

Ken Wiles douses a fire in a wastebasket on the third floor of the ’14 building. Note: Wiles, in the event of an actual fire, would first have called the Clinic switchboard to notify the Rochester Fire Department; then, he would have tried to extinguish the blaze himself. That’s an important point to remember, Hubin emphasizes.
Ken Wiles douses a fire in a wastebasket on the third floor of the ’14 building.

Mayo watchmen helped to preserve irreplaceable medical histories and other records, protecting them from damage by the elements by closing doors and windows that were left open. They also protected Mayo's premises and surrounding properties from fire.

Watchmen were selected for their integrity—and their agility—in getting around the buildings, through the long corridors, service tunnels, and stairs. They were also selected for their ability to do a job alone, without depending on others.

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Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Associate at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She supports marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.