LeDuc Historic Estate opens for the season on May 23
The community's house, also known as the LeDuc Historic Estate, is about to open for its regular season of tours, programs and activities.
The tours officially begin Wednesday, May 23, and continue through the end of October. The highlight of the season occurs this weekend, according to site manager Jessica Bierbrauer. Two great-granddaughters of Gen. William and Mary LeDuc, Anne LeDuc and Nancy Miller, are visiting Hastings and, of course, the mansion.
A luncheon with LeDuc and Miller is open to the public. It is planned for 11:45 a.m. Sunday, May 20, at the mansion. The luncheon is $25 and reservations are required.
An open meeting with the two women is at 1 p.m. The meeting is free, but reservations are again required. Call 437-7055.
"This is the highlight of the season," said Bierbrauer, and was set in motion years ago when Hastings resident and Bed and Breakfast owner Pam Thorsen met LeDuc at a convention. They have kept in touch over the years, and this is the year a visit could be arranged.
Other special events and programs are planned for this eighth year of the mansion being open to the community.
The community has played a large role in supporting the ongoing operation of the mansion, which is owned by the City of Hastings and managed by the Dakota County Historical Society.
"The generosity of the community has been amazing from providing furnishings, beautiful artwork and objects, to china and glassware," said LeDuc senior tour guide and marketing manager Margaret Goderstad.
Through the years, the mansion has been very popular for school groups which come for tours both inside the house and outside on the grounds (including the now-famous chickens and coop). This past year, about 1,000 school children went through the house. The majority are elementary age, but there have been some middle schools students, primarily Hastings Middle School teacher Spencer Johnson's classes. Summer camps at the mansion are also scheduled. More information is available through Hastings Community Education.
New this year is the Heritage Harvest Garden Celebration Planned for Saturday, June 2.
"This is for people of all ages," said Bierbrauer. "This is a hands-in activity for the whole family."
Attendees will learn about planting, beekeeping, sustainability, healthy benefits from the garden and be able to buy an Earthbox ($40 each), a vegetable-growing container on wheels. All will receive certificates. Reservations are required.
The LeDuc Historic Estate will partner with the Hastings Prescott Area Arts council (HPAAC) and the Hastings Garden Club to present the Arts in the Garden June 23. The LeDuc Historic Estate will be one of the stops in the garden tours.
Also scheduled at the estate this year will be the annual Civil War weekend set for September. An encampment is part of the event and will feature demonstrations, re-enactments, musical performances. For the past two years, the event has focused on the actual years of the Civil War - this year, the focus is on 1862.
September also means the annual LeDuc Simmons Fall Country Market and Mississippi/St. Croix Art show (Sept. 22). Area artists will display their artwork and offer some for sale.
As in previous years, the Hastings Concert Association will hold its summer concerts on the first Sunday evenings in August on the grounds of estate. The concerts are free, with the opportunity available to buy refreshments each evening.
The Hastings Artists Show and Sale (again featuring area artists) is scheduled for Nov. 3 to 11.
The tours of LeDuc Historic estate are held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, from May 23 to Oct. 28. Large groups are encouraged to make reservations by calling 437-7055.
The Friends of LeDuc of Historic Hastings meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
The LeDuc Book Group meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.
Historic bus tours of Hastings can be arranged by contacting the LeDuc Historic Estate. Goderstad is the tour guide and the tours visit the historic areas of the city.
The volunteers who help keep the estate operational are vital, both Bierbrauer and Goderstad said. Last year, about 130 volunteers contributed about 3,500 hours of their time from being hosts to working in the gardens, helping with the chickens, to providing refreshments and other help at special events.
The need is ongoing. For more information, call 437-7055.