Historic home owners honoredAt the May 18 Hastings City Council meeting, five owners of historic Hastings homes were honored for the way in which they have preserved and maintained their properties.
By: Bonnie St. James, The Hastings Star-Gazette
At the May 18 Hastings City Council meeting, five owners of historic Hastings homes were honored for the way in which they have preserved and maintained their properties.
Honored were Victor and Sara Wittgenstein, owners of the home at 215 W. Ninth St.; Robert and Susan Kruse, 300 W. 10th St.; John Harrington and Nancy Waite, 307 E. Sixth St.; Michael and Amy Van Zee, 309 W. Seventh St.; and Thomas Milburn and Tammy Jacobson, 600 River St.
Hastings’ Heritage Preservation Commission annually reviews homes and chooses to honor those owners who have maintained and preserved their homes accurately to the period in which they were built. May is National Preservation Month, and the awards are given annually in May.
Houses receiving the annual honor are not necessarily on the national historic register, or been locally designated as historic: they may have simply been restored or maintained in a historic way by an owner.
309 W. Seventh St.
One of the homes nominated in 2009, called the McDonald-Todd home, was nominated for the National Historic Register in 1979 and received the designation in 1980. The house was built in 1856 or 1857 in Nininger, a year before Minnesota became a state, for A.W. McDonald, journalist and managing editor of “Emigrant Aid Journal.” Like today, there were periods of recession. That and the fact the railroad bypassed Nininger, led to its demise. McDonald left Nininger in 1859.
His house was one of several Nininger buildings moved about five miles downstream to Hastings. The transfer was accomplished during the winter of 1866-67 on the ice of the Mississippi River. The new owner was Irving Todd Sr., publisher of the Hastings Conserver from 1862 to 1866, and of the Hastings Gazette from 1866 until his death in 1921.
Then-staff writer Chad Richardson wrote about the house in April 1997. The story of the house, and those who lived there, is the reason the house has been designated “historic.” It has a rich history.
“Organized baseball in Minnesota all began in a home now located in Hastings,” Richardson wrote about the house.
“On Aug. 3, 1857, a meeting to organize a baseball team was held in the home of Anthony W. McDonald, the publisher of Nininger’s newspaper …” The Nininger baseball team was called “Nininger Nine.”
The move down the river came about when Irving Todd bought the house from James Brownell in November of 1866, for $385.
The river in 1866, before locks and dams, was “miniscule compared to what it is now,” historian Dick Darsow was quoted as saying in 1997, about how the move could take place. “Today the public can’t fathom that. In times of drought in the earlier years, it was difficult to maintain a three-foot depth for navigation.”
Because the river was so shallow, it froze during the winter, all the way to the bottom along the shoreline. A team of horses pulled the home along the river from Nininger to Hastings.
In designating homes as “historic,” the Hastings Heritage Preservation Commission works to preserve Hastings’ history through its historic buildings.
Bert Goderstad, head of the Preservation Commission is fond of telling people that we wouldn’t have a historic downtown today, a downtown that attracts film companies, Cruise-Ins and tourists, if it hadn’t been for the foresight of those who cared enough about Hastings’ place in Minnesota’s history to preserve those buildings and homes.