This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.
William Gates LeDuc and Mary Bronson LeDuc built their dream home on a quiet spot of land on Vermillion Street, which has now developed into one of the busiest streets in Hastings.
Their Gothic Revival home, built during the Civil War, cost more than they expected, so William spent much of his life chasing his fortune in a wide variety of industries with limited success.
The details of their dream home and the pursuit of riches to support living there form the subject of the narration of the tours that are open to the public five times daily Thursday through Sunday from mid-May to mid-October.
“The tours are open to anyone,” said Mariah Ring, site supervisor. “Tours typically have about eight people in a group, and they last about an hour.”
Visitors can walk through the entire house with a guide, learning about the history of the mansion, the history of Hastings, and the history of the Civil War.
Their story is also the subject of a book, “An American Gothic: The Life & Times & Legacy of William Gates LeDuc” by Steve Werle.
The LeDuc Historic Estate has several special events throughout the year such as the Civil War Weekend at LeDuc on Sept. 7-8, Coffee with the General on Oct. 5, Candlelit Tours at LeDuc on Oct. 12, and Victorian Holiday Tea at LeDuc on Dec. 7 and 14 in 2019.
“We also have private events where people do baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties, and other things like that,” Ring said.
William served as a quartermaster in the Union Army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of brigadier general. When his college friend Rutherford B. Hayes became president, William was named Commissioner of Agriculture, so he and Mary moved to Washington, D.C., for four years.
“We feel that this is a unique part of history that took place here in Minnesota,” Ring said. “We hope that our visitors walk away with an enriching experience about a small part of our local history, but that they can also see the connections that this local history has to the broader history of the nation.”
If you go...
Name: LeDuc Historic Estate
Address: 1629 Vermillion Street, Hastings, Minn.
Hours: 10-5 Thurs.-Sun. From mid-May to mid-October. Tours are at 10:00, 11:30, 1:00, 2:30, and 4:00.
Cost: Adult $7; Senior 60+ $6; Student 6-17 $5; children 5 and under free.