The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door
The Beatles' "Long and Winding Road" has taken a detour to the heart of Rochester with a traveling exhibit of the band's memorabilia kicking off the grand reopening this past weekend of the historic Chateau Theatre.
Dr. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the famous medical clinic that bears his name, laid the cornerstone in 1927 for what was then called the Chateau Dodge Theatre. The art deco building was designed to evoke a Renaissance village with lights embedded in the ceiling to represent a starry night sky. The building eventually was converted to a movie theater, which closed in 1983. After a $4 million renovation, Barnes & Noble ran a bookstore there from 1994 until 2015, when it closed.
The city of Rochester bought the theater in 2015 for $6 million, including a $500,000 contribution from Mayo Clinic. The theater's reopening represents one of the first efforts to remake the city under the Destination Medical Center plan, a Mayo Clinic-driven effort to maintain the city's prominence in health care, medicine and research. The 20-year development project blends billions of dollars in private investment with $585 million in public money.
Patrick Seeb, DMC's development director, said the beloved theater is a key part of efforts to re-energize the downtown area. The DMC board and the city approved spending $1.1 million to replace the theater's roof and make other repairs necessary to open the 5,000-square-foot space to the public. It then sought proposals for a manager and programmer to run the building as a public venue for five years, with the idea of restoring it as a multiuse theater down the road at an estimated cost of $25 million.
St. Paul-based Exhibits Development Group (EDG) won the contract and booked "The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition" for the grand reopening. The exhibition is a collaboration between EDG and Peter Miniaci & Associates Collective; it has no association with the Beatles or Apple Corps Ltd.
Amy Noble Seitz, founder and CEO of EDG, said the Beatlemania exhibit will be a good fit for the theater. She noted that Mayo Clinic draws a large international clientele and the patients tend to be older.
"Rochester and the Mayo community are very healing communities. That's really the message of the Beatles. Music, as you know, has no boundaries. It's really just peace," she said.
EDG is forming a tax-exempt entity to run the theater, Seitz said. She said DMC is not paying her company to run the theater.
"We have to earn revenue" through the theater's activities, Seitz said. The theater will host musicians, exhibitions, retail sales related to the exhibits and a cafe.
"There's a lot of just amazing talent coming in," Seitz said, including the musician Annie Mack and the 20th annual Jeff Arundel Holiday Variety Show.
"There will always be programming going on. Health and wellness events. Music. ChaTalks, which are like TED talks, about the arts, science, engineering and mathematics. Cultural talks. We'll have people coming from around the world," Seitz said.
Memberships to the Chateau Theatre cost $30 to $100 a year. Members save on tickets and will receive other benefits, such as early entry to exhibitions.
Tickets to the Beatles exhibit are $15 for adults; $13 for seniors, military and college students; and $8 for children ages 6 to 18.