On this page you'll be introduced to historic sites in the
Hastings area. Some of them are simply interesting points of local
interest, but many have a unique place in the history of Minnesota
or have even been deemed of National significance. Each is well
worth the trip to see in person and, hopefully, this page will help
you understand these sites and the role they played in our rich
||Indicates a site that is of National historic significance and
has a marker in place from the National Register of Historic
Location: 707 East First Street
The Hastings Foundry/Star Iron
Works, a long, low stone building, is a survivor from a time when
industries lined the Hastings river front. Except for the removal
of a tall brick smokestack and a rear section of the building in
the early 1900s, it looks much the same as it did when A. R.
Morrell, an ironsmith from Vermont, built it in 1859. It is one of
the earliest industrial buildings standing in the state.
According to the National Register nomination, the first
Minnesota-made steam engine was built in this shop in 1860. The
shop also manufactured the engine and other iron work for the
steamboat "Stella Whipple" in 1861. In 1862 the building was sold
to Col. John L. Thorne and soon after gutted by a fire, causing
$40,000 in damage. Although it was rebuilt, Thorne's business
suffered during the Civil War, and the building was sold again in
1866 to a stock company, with John H. Rehse, president. Rehse
incorporated the Star Iron Works in 1867, which occupied the
structure until it failed, leaving the building idle.
In 1875, Andrew Warsop, a local blacksmith, purchased the
building and divided it into three sections, a machine shop,
foundry and engine room. Metal support posts for the famous
Hastings Spiral B ridge were produced here as well as six engines
for elevators on the Hastings and Dakota Railroad.
Harris K. Stroud bought the building around 1900 and formed the
Stroud Humphrey Manufacturing Company in 1905. An inventor, Stroud
built a number of automobiles in his Hastings shop and received the
first auto license issued in Minnesota in 1906. The Stroud-Humphrey
Company specialized in gas, steam and electric engines, primarily
for river boats and launches. The Stroud-Humphrey Company closed in
1919 and since that time the building has had many owners.
Location: 612 Vermillion Street
A Hastings banker and dry goods merchant,
William J. Van Dyke built this large, brick French Second Empire
house in 1868 at a staggering cost of $25,000. A tunnel connected
the house to the stable, which is now an apartment building. Like
the Latto house, Van Dyke's house was constructed of Chaska
In January, 1880 Rowland C. Libbey bought the house. Libbey was
twice mayor of Hastings and owner of a Hastings lumber mill and
sash and door factory. Libbey's mills burned in Hastings' greatest
inferno, the Christmas morning fire of 1899. Libbey occupied the
house until 1911.
In July 1914, J. E. Post and Dr. E. O. Fuller leased the house
from then-owner J. M. Millett for use as a sanitarium, treating
nervous disorders and rheumatism. First known as Hope Sanitarium,
its name was changed to St. Raphael's Hospital. In 1929 St.
Raphael's moved into the Thompson-Fasbender House (also a National
Register site), and the Van Dyke-Libbey house was converted into
apartments, which is the way it remains to this day.
Location: 718 Vermillion Street
The Howes-Graus House, a stately residence
with a high tower, decorative window brackets and intact porches,
was built in 1868. It is noteworthy because of its Italianate style
and its builder, Byron Howes, early Hastings banker and civil
Byron Howes was born in Putnam County, New York, and came to
Hastings in 1856 when he was 23. He built his house in 1868 in the
Italianate style, a style popularized by eastern architect, Andrew
Jackson Downing. Downing recommended creating a total residential
environment including the house's grounds. The Howes house grounds
retain their original integrity today; in fact, the year is still
adorned by an elm said to have been planted by General LeDuc.
Byron Howes served as deputy county treasurer and as cashier and
trustee of Merchants National Bank of Hastings. In 1872, he
established the Hastings Farmers and Traders Bank. He was also one
of the founders and largest stockholders of the German American
Bank of St. Paul, founded in 1873. The holder of many public
offices in Hastings, he died in 1886 at the age of 53.
Wendel Graus bought the house in the early 1900s, having come to
Hastings 40 years before. He went into the brewery business with
Rudolph Latto in 1868 and later he became involved in lumber and
hardware businesses. His descendants still owned the house when it
went on the National Register in 1978.
A Graus descendant signed a purchase agreement with St. John's
Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church sold the property in 1988
after it was unable to use the site for parking.
Location: Seventh & Ramsey Streets
Rudolph Latto, a poor German immigrant,
arrived in Hastings in 1856 with his bride. Starting as stableman
at a Hastings hotel where his wife worked as cook, Latto became the
prosperous owner of one of the city's leading hotels, president of
the Hastings German American Bank, a grocer and brewer. His large
home, built in 1880-81, became the social center for the German
people in the area.
The house was constructed of white brick from Chaska and
typifies a transition from the Italianate to Eastlake style with
second-story bay windows under bracketed cornice and truncated
The Lattos, community-minded and having no children, willed their
house to the city of Hastings to be used as a hospital open to all
doctors. They also left a sum of $10,000 for altering and enlarging
the hospital plus $5,000 for a free bed for the poor.
In February 1914 the Latto Hospital opened for business. A new sky
light illuminated the recently-completed white-tile operating room
on the third floor. The second floor contained a nursery,
obstetrical ward, bathroom and two rooms. The first floor had an
office, small emergency room, two private rooms, a six-bed ward for
men and a four-bed ward for women. An elevator with rope cables
serviced the hospital.
The city maintained ownership of the Latto until 1987. A number
of people have leased and operated it over the years in a low-cost
charitable manner. In 1932 Mildred Schmitz leased the Latto
Hospital; from 1944 to 1949, Mrs. Francis Krueger ran it; Mrs.
Marie Fasbender operated the Latto as a nursing home from 1949 to
1957; Mrs. Delia Novak then leased the building and continued it as
a nursing home. In 1970 it became the Hastings Board and Care with
a bed capacity of 24 patients. It closed in 1985 and its residents
moved to newer facilities.
That year, in need of significant renovation estimated at
$40,000, the Latto became a topic of community interest. Soon
after, a citizens committee appointed by the Hastings City Council
recommended selling the Latto to private investors.
Pam and Dick Thorsen opened the renovated hospital as a bed
& breakfast in 1989. "Rosewood" is the second B&B the
Thorsens opened in Hastings. "Thorwood", or the Thompson-Fasbender
House, was also a hospital.
For decades, the Latto served as one of Hastings' most prominent
hospitals. Delia Novak noted in 1985 that "half of Hastings was
Location: 309 W. Seventh Street
A. W. MacDonald built this white Greek Revival house in the old
town site of Nininger northwest of Hastings in 1857. MacDonald, a
staff member of the Scientific American in New York for ten years,
came to Nininger to become managing editor of Ignatius Donnelly's
paper, the Emigrant Aid Journal. It is believed that MacDonald's
house held the Journal's office and printing press. When the
Nininger town site failed, MacDonald left in 1859.
In November of 1866 Irving Todd, Sr. purchased the house for the
sum of $385 from a James Brownell. That winter Todd moved the house
over the ice of the Mississippi River and set it on the lot in
Hastings it now occupies.
Todd, a newspaper man, published the Hastings Conserver, which
he acquired in 1862 from Rev. C. N. Whitney. In 1866 Todd joined
forces with C. Stebbins, owner of the Hastings Independent,
renaming the new paper the Hastings Gazette. Todd bought Stebbins
out in 1878.
In 1865, Todd married school teacher Helen Lucas. Their son,
Irving Todd, Jr. became a partner with his father at the Gazette in
1887. A few years after his father's death in 1921, Todd, Jr. sold
his interest in the newspaper and served as president of the local
phone company, which he had founded in 1898. A tremendously active,
beneficent, and community-minded man, Irving Todd, Jr. died in 1964
at age 98 (the same number of years the house remained in the Todd
William Thompson's beautiful French Second Empire style house
was built in 1880.
Thompson was born in Maine in 1832 and came to Minnesota in
1857. A wheat buyer for the Little Cannon Flour Mills in Cannon
Falls, Thompson also served as vice-president of the German
American Bank in Hastings and he owned several large farms in the
Thompson also owned a sawmill with R. C. Libbey and he operated
a sash and door factory in conjunction with the mill. This
woodworking expertise is reflected in the house's interior; it is
well-preserved even though it has functioned as a hospital and
The exterior of the house is striking with its red brick walls
rising from a high limestone foundation. A mansard roof, ornately
decorated with scalloped wood shingles, towers above a bracketed
Thompson's only daughter, Katherine, inherited the property upon
the death of her mother in 1904. Katherine married Captain Earnest
C. Anthony in 1898. Previously involved in steamboating, Captain
Anthony came to Hastings in 1887 where he took up the trade of
electrician, building an electric light plant in Hastings. He
operated the Hastings plant for a number of years before returning
to steamboating and running a line of boats from St. Paul to St.
Louis. When he retired from the river trade in 1905, he dabbled in
Hastings real estate. Captain Anthony died in 1923, his wife
Katherine Thompson Anthony in 1928.
In 1929, Dr. Herman Fasbender, Sr. purchased and remodeled the
Thompson house for the new location of St. Raphael Hospital. In the
1930s, Dr. Fasbender moved a hand lift elevator from a store he
owned on 2nd Street and installed it in the house.
After the new Regina Memorial Hospital opened in Hastings in
1953, St. Raphael's closed and the building was converted into an
apartment house. In 1979, Pam and Richard Thorsen purchased the
Thompson house and made it into a bed and breakfast inn.
Location: 801 Pine Street
A fine example of the later works of Frank
Lloyd Wright stands just off Highway 55 at the northwest entrance
to Hastings. The building, known as the Fasbender Clinic, reflects
the use of complex polygonal shapes, a stylization that became
known as Wright's "inward house period". A copper roof folding
almost to the ground dominates the exterior of the clinic and
surrounds a tall, variegated buff and light brown brick utility
The Fasbender Clinic is one of 13 buildings Frank Lloyd Wright
constructed in Minnesota. During his life (1869-1959), Wright
designed well over 800 buildings, of which 433 were constructed and
280 still stand. Wright died in 1959, two months before the
Although less than 50 years old (constructed 1957-59), it
received National Register status in 1979 due to Wright's
international fame and the fear that expansion of adjacent Highway
55 would endanger it.
Thomas Olson, a nine-year student of Wright's and friend of Dr.
Fasbender Jr., encouraged the doctor to enlist Wright for the
design of this medical clinic. Fasbender's father (Herman Fasbender
Sr.), also a doctor, began his Hastings practice in 1921 and later
served as alderman and mayor.
In 1966, when Dr. Fasbender Jr. moved into larger offices at the
Mississippi Valley Clinic, he sold the clinic to Production Credit
Association. In 1970, Production Credit sold the buildings to
dentists John Thibodo and J. K. Kugler. The building is now owned
by Edward Jones Investments.
Location: 8th and Vermillion Streets
The Methodist Church is the oldest church building in Hastings.
Built in 1862 as the Methodist Episcopal Church, it is a simple
clapboard building combining eclectic design elements from Greek
Revival, Gothic Revival and Italianate styles. Originally
constructed on 5th Street, it was moved in 1871 to its 8th Street
In 1854 Methodist minister Rev. C. C. Kidder had charge of the
region south of St. Paul. On a visit to Hastings he found about a
dozen Methodist families whom he began to serve. In 1855 Rev. James
G. Johnson, who lived northwest of Red Wing, was assigned to the
Prescott Mission and the Hastings group came under his care. The
group officially organized in 1856 when it elected its first board
of stewards. At first, services were held in the Teutonia Hall and
Sunday School at the Twitchell schoolhouse. In 1857 Eli Robinson
gave a half lot on the west side of Vermillion Street where the
first church was built in 1861 under the pastorate of Rev. J. D.
Rich. The building was paid for before the contract was let.
The location proved unsatisfactory because the lot was low and
wet, and in 1871 the building was moved to Eighth and Vermillion.
At this time the tower was added. In 1894, a large addition was
built into the original building for more seating.
Location: 724 Ashland Avenue
This lovely home was built in 1868 by Rev.
G. W. T. Wright, minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church located
on Vermillion Street between Fifth and Sixth. Wright paid for the
house and he used it for the church's parsonage. Hastings grocer
Thomas Joseph Reed purchased the house in 1879 after Wright was
transferred to another parish. Around 1909, Ignatius Eckert, a
retired area farmer, bought the house. Mr. Eckert died in 1943 at
age 74 and after Mrs. Eckert died in 1956, Jerome McNamara bought
the house from her estate.
The house is an excellent example of the Italian Village style
of architecture. Designed on a square-shaped plan and constructed
entirely with wood, it has a low hipped roof that it topped with a
cupola. A delightful porch across the front is partially bracketed
and supported by beveled columns.
Location: Vermillion and 3rd Streets
The Dakota County Courthouse,
constructed from 1869 to 1871, remains one of the most dominant
structures in downtown Hastings, even though an unsympathetic
addition in 1955 damaged its original integrity. One of Minnesota's
first architects, A. M. Radcliff, designed the building in an
Italian Villa style with four symmetrical facades of brick and
Architect Radcliff established a St. Paul office in 1858 and
practiced until his death in 1886. He designed many downtown St.
Paul business blocks during his career, including the city's Market
House at Seventh and Wabasha (1878-1881) which burned in 1912 - a
fire that consumed nearly the entire holdings of the St. Paul
Public Library, the building's major tenant at the time.
In 1912, another St. Paul architect, the prolific Augustus
Gauger, designed and implemented a renovation to the Dakota County
Courthouse. The central cupola-like dome was replaced with a
circular dome and the dormers were removed from the four corner
Among the notable events which have taken place in or at the
courthouse was a reception with a speech by President Rutherford B.
Hayes on September 9, 1878.
For over 100 years the courthouse served as the seat of Dakota
County government. The county board held their last meeting in the
courthouse in late September 1974. In 1993, the refurbished
Courthouse opened as the new Hastings City Hall.
Location: 1629 Vermillion Street
"A Cottage in the Rhine Style" is how Andrew Jackson
Downing described his design for J. T. Headley's Hudson
highland rural home in his 1842 book, Cottage Residence,
Rural Architecture & Landscape Gardening. Twenty-three
years later, General William Gates LeDuc built a nearly
identical home in Hastings. More a mansion than a cottage,
LeDuc's house portrays rural residential grandeur and
symbolizes the man himself by its appearance of strength
An attorney from Ohio, LeDuc settled in St. Paul in 1850,
practicing law and running a bookshop. Soon after, LeDuc
successfully represented a client involved in a land dispute at
Vermillion Falls (now in Hastings). He was paid in land, and so
began his lifelong attachment to the Hastings area. The
construction of his house took many years, slowed by his absence in
the Civil War and his ability to finance it from afar. By 1865, it
The house has ten fireplaces; its limestone walls are three feet
thick and, except for the cherry staircase rail, all the woodwork
is white pine finished at the site.
It was the first site acquired by the Minnesota Historical Society in the late
1950s. Through lease agreement, Carroll Simmons, previous
owner and distant LeDuc relative, lived there until 1986.
As for LeDuc, volumes could be written about him - Civil War
hero, U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture under President Hayes,
railroad builder, progressive farmer, real estate speculator and
more. LeDuc died in the bedroom of his home in 1917 at the age of
If you are interested in more information on the restoration and history of
this fascinating house, please visit the LeDuc House Web Site hosted by the Dakota County Historical
Location: 602 Vermillion Street
When this church was constructed in 1876, it was described
in the Hastings Union as one of the finest church edifices
of its size in the state of Minnesota. Designed by C.N.
Daniels of Faribault, the Romanesque revival building
is 87 feet long and 52 feet wide. The superstructure of
brick has stone cap and window seats.
The congregation was established in 1856 by successful
business people of Old Stock American descent. Charles
Sumner LeDuc, brother of William Gates LeDuc, was the
founder of the church. Stephen Gardner was one of the
well-known citizens of Hastings who supported this church.
The structure has remained only slightly altered and has
weathered fire and lightning over its 125 year existence.
The Spiral Bridge was less roadway and more roller coaster! The
bridge was built in 1895 with an interesting spiral that
wound down to the Hastings business streets. The reason
for the design was simple - it had to be high enough for
steam boats to pass under it while still exiting onto
The Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company received the contract
for construction and engineering, but the individual responsibility
for the idea to make a spiral bridge remains a mystery
that spawned local controversy half a century after the
bridge was completed when people claiming to have designed
it (or their descendants) waged a battle in the local
press. The leading contenders are Oscar Claussen, John
Geist of the Wisconsin company, Hastings businessman John
Meloy, local inventive genius B. D. Cadwell, and former
Speaker of the Minnesota House and employee of the Wisconsin
company, Lawrence H. Johnson, who maintained he suggested
the idea based on a design by Horace Horton of the Chicago
Bridge and Iron Company for a bridge design initially
intended for Winona. Regardless of who designed it, the
bridge served both horse-drawn and engine powered vehicles
for 50 years. Many people went out of their way just to
The sad tale of the bridge's demise spanned many years
and ended in a pocket veto by Governor Luther Youngdahl
in 1951. The Dakota County Historical Society retained
attorney David Grannis, Jr., who presented a resolution
to the State, asking to take title and preserve the approach.
A bill nearly to this effect was passed by the Senate
and House, but was vetoed by the governor after a lobbying
effort to do so by several Hastings businessmen at the
Capitol. Dakota County's famous, if not dizzying, landmark
was razed in 1951.
Named for red clay banks, the Vermillion river crosses the
County before descending in falls and rapids to the Mississippi.
Its waters powered three Hastings flour mills at the end
of the "Pioneer Wheat Trail."
The water no longer powers flour mills today, however it is well
worth the trip for the exquisite beauty of Minnesota's natural
bounty. Miles of scenic trails wind along both the Mississippi and
Vermillion rivers in the area that are sure to entice anyone who
loves the outdoors.
Vermillion Falls Park is on the south side of Hastings,
just off Highway 61 and County Road 47, near the Con Agra
flour mill. The stunning Vermillion Falls are 100-feet
high. Its water power first began to power a mill in the
1850s that most notably produced the first saleable graham
flour in the state.
Like individual sites, groupings of historically significant
properties are also eligible for National Register status. Hastings
has two districts on the National Register, the West 2nd Street
Residential Historic District and the Hastings East 2nd Street
Commercial Historic District.
This residential district is comprised of 13 architecturally
significant homes constructed between 1857-1890. The homes,
all on West 2nd Street in a two and one half block area,
are divided into two categories, pivotal and complementary.
The pivotal homes include:
207 West 2nd Street
Built in 1875 of French Second Empire style, 2-1/2 stories,
stucco, mansard roof.
Southwest corner of Spring and 2nd Street
Built between 1857 and 1858, octagon, 2 stories, limestone,
stuccoed over, cupola, and wrap-around porch.
319 West 2nd Street
Built in 1861, 2-1/2 stories, cupolated Italian Villa,
limestone, bracketed cornice.
413 West 2nd Street
Built in 1870, Italianate, 2-1/2 stories, clapboard, hipped
roof, bracketed cornice, bay windows, portico, full front
418 West 2nd Street
Built in 1858, Greek Revival, 2 stories, clapboard, six over six
Thirty-five commercial buildings, built between 1860-1900, stand
in this district, giving testimony to Hastings' past as an upper
Mississippi commercial center. Unlike many urban areas in other
towns, which undertook post World War II urban renewal projects at
the expense of their historic structures, much of downtown Hastings
If you know of a local site in this area that you feel should be
acknowledged for its historic significance we'd love to hear about
it or help you to investigate and document the site. Please contact
the us at:
Dakota County Historical Society
130 Third Avenue North
South Saint Paul, MN 55075
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