— The Seeds Are Planted
After serving in the Civil War, William LeDuc and his wife,
Mary, finish building their Hastings, Minnesota house -
from the plan books of A.J. Downing - and move in with their
children Willie, Minnie and Florence. Their daughter Alice
is born three years later.
to 1880 — LeDuc's Influence Grows
President Hayes appoints William to be the U.S. Commissioner
of Agriculture. In this capacity, he champions the development
of American-grown teas. He provides seeds and plants to
plantations in Georgia and South Carolina and distributes
their products to selected taste-testers.
friend, the distinguished jurist and future Supreme Court
Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, is chosen as a taste-tester
for the new blends and writes to William in 1880:
should not be surprised were I to visit our planet a half-century
hence to find your name enrolled amont the great benefactors
of your country as the introducer of Tea Culture in the
New World. . ."
1890 — The LeDuc Women Reap What They Sew
Florence and Minnie begin Hastings Needlework, a cottage
industry based at the family's Hastings "cottage."
It continued until 1922. Minnie's daughter Mabel Gardner,
having inherited the family's entrepreneurial spirit, becomes
a dealer in antiques and fine china.
— The LeDuc "Summer House"
The LeDuc Family enjoyed a blend of winter and summer living
to suit their taste. William LeDuc dies (13 years after
his wife) and Alice buys a house in Minneapolis for the
entire family. They continue to enjoy the house in Hastings
as their summer home.
—The Rewards of Hard Work Pass to Another Generation
Family friend Carroll Simmons purchases the house from the
LeDuc family for his antiques business.
- Minnesota Historical Society Gains Ownership
Carroll Simmons passed ownership of the property to the
Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) with the stipulation
that he be allowed to continue using it for his business.
The LeDuc House is listed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1970.
to 2001 — LeDuc's Future Uncertain
In 1986 Carroll Simmons retired and since then the house
has stood empty. However, the Minnesota Historical Society
maintained the site, conducted research, and considered
options for its use, including hiring an interim site manager
to work with the city on possible acquisition.
—New Hope for LeDuc's Future!
The 2002 Minnesota legislature released $1 million in bonding
funds for MHS to preserve the house and bring it up to current
— Restoration Underway
The Hastings City Council also authorized the Dakota County
Historical Society (DCHS) to manage the historic site, install
exhibits, and schedule public events after the renovation
is finished. After exhibits are ready, DCHS will open the
house from May through October. The city and DCHS also plan
restoration of the site's historic landscape and grounds,
which complement the architectural design of the house.
The city of Hastings has agreed to take title when the renovation