A guide that Carroll's good friend Hazel wrote when conducting tours of the LeDuc House
Hazel Jacobsen, the wife of the hardware store owner in Hastings, was one of Carroll's best friends. Both shared a deep passion for history and architecture. Whenever the LeDuc was opened for a community event or auspicious anniversary, Hazel was there, organizing committees and giving tours. She wrote this tour guide for the LeDuc house over a period of several decades from the 1950s to the 1990s. Carroll doubtless collaborated with her, or at the very least, provided her with much of the information. It is well worth reading, although there are a few factual errors sprinkled throughout the text.
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Call attention to the grand entrance with its double massive doors and woodwork, high ceilings and the spacious feeling it gives to those entering. From this entrance - to the left - is a door which leads to the veranda. This 'porch' provided insultaion to the drawing room behind it both in summer and winter. Screening was added after the Civil War when it first became popular.
Directly above the vestibule with its inner doors which shielded the occupants from the severe winter winds when others entered, is the tower with its chapel on the third floor. (This was added after Mr. Simmons bought the house.)
Show the thickness of the inner walls (2') as one goes through the doorways.
The back door opens into this same elegant hall giving a delightful impression to those who enter.
Light fixtures are original to the house.
Pictures on the wall are of General LeDuc when in the Civil War army and at age 94 in the year he died.
The French gold leaf cabinet is also an original piece in the house.
In this hallway is the only exception to the white pine woodwork found throughout the rest of the house - the cherry staircase rail leading up to the second floor.
The Drawing Room
President Hayes and his entourage were received in this room on September 9, 1878 while visiting the LeDuc family.
Room: The room is 12 1/2 feet high. Notice the massive hand rubbed woodwork, moldings, and doors.
Windows: They are 10 1/2 feet high and 6 feet wide. The drapes are wool and silk, and though not original, copied as close as possible. The cornices are original.
Chandelier: Waterford Crystal from Ireland
Fireplace: Italian Marble. The girandoles on the mantel were original to the house, and were Mrs. LeDuc's grandparents'.
Mirror: 12 1/2 feet, gold leaf, brought here from Batavia, New York.
Paintings: Marine scenes which are original to the house. They were painted in 1880 (the one to the right - facing that wall - is of New York Harbor).
Astral lamps: These burn whale oil, which had to be shipped from New Orleans to St. Louis, then picked up there before river traffic later continued further north when locks and dams were constructed.
Carpet: Handmade Belgian, tufted.
Furniture: About 20 pieces of original John Belter furniture circa 1850. The price of the chair when bought was $750; the settee was $5000. Mr. Simmons restored and reupholstered these in Italian silk material at $50 a yard a few years ago. This appears to be the largest collection in the area. It has been on display at various museums and shows. These pieces are now priceless. The settee in front of the fireplace is from the Villa Saint Maria in Frontenac, which was struck by lightening. It was bought and restored by Mr. Simmons.
This was the General's study and office. Here he worked on his plans, composed music, wrote poetry and read.
Above the fireplace is an original oil painting of General LeDuc riding a horse during the Civil War battle of Look Out Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. LeDuc was captain at the start of the war and at the end was promoted to Brigadier General. He served under his friend, General William T. Sherman.
The chandelier is Waterford crystal. Waterford glass, made in Ireland, is considered to be among the finest in the world.
Bookshelves housed his rare book collection; most of the books are now in storage.
Thomas Walker is the artist of the oil painting. He painted all of the panorama in the dome of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Interior - Second Floor
This two levels floor leads to 3 bedrooms on the stepup level, the north side guestroom has complete bathroom which backs the hall bathroom, the General's room on the south front side, and the S.E. bedroom, Mrs. LeDuc's. The first level of the second floor, the bathroom to the left at the head of the stairs, and the large bedroom (4th) over the back addition, which C.B. Simmons used for years.
The General's Room
The cupboard to the right (facing) the bed is original to the house.
The windows are covered with the original lambriquins and cluny lace curtains. These windows, as all the rest in the house featured the special casement shutters.
The fourposter mahogany bed is custom built by Thomas MacEntire, a prominent cabinet maker of his time, in Salem, Mass. It is not original to the room. The bedspread is over a hundred years old. You will notice the bedstairs next to the head of the bed. These were very common, as the beds were made very high off the floor to avoid drafts.
Astral lamps burned whale oil (kerosene came into use baout mid 1830s). Also on the bedside table is a lamp-light guard which kept the glare of the light out of one's eyes if a lamp was left burning during the night.
On the walls next to the fireplace are some of the original newspaper clippings of President Hayes' visit in 1878.
Again, notice other pieces in the Belter furniture collection.
Mrs. LeDuc's room:
This is furnished in New England Provincial. The fourposter bed is curly maple. The chest is a maple chest on chest.
The corner cupboard is of pine, containing Pennsylvania Spatter China. (It is English Staffordshire, made for the Pennsylvania export trade.)
Notice the 18th century Banister chair.
At the foot of the bed is a nanny rocker. These kept the baby content and safe (notice the guard rail) while the 'nanny' rocked and sewed. The guard was also removable when babies grew older.
Pictures are Engravings of Washington subjects in gold frames.
Fireplaces in both rooms are handrubbed native white pine made on the premises, as were the windows which have the inside-shutters of ingenious design for regulating the light and air. These fold back into panels in the deep window wells and can be put out of sight when not in use. - The fireplace in this room has a builtin fireplace stove.
C.B. Simmons' room
The bed is a high poster, new England maple; at the foot, a Norwegian chest. A Sheraton chest and table are in the room, as are pictures of Washington and Lincoln. Portraits of the Bannings, Mrs. LeDuc's grandparents, are also in the room to the right wall as one enters the doorway. These paintings were done in Philadelphia in about 1800.
This room contained the 10th fireplace in the house - but that is now plastered over.
The Dining Room
Note the gold leaf cornices over windows which are covered with old but beautiful silk and linen damask draperies in keeping with the elegance of LeDuc's life. He had been reared in the environment of beautiful furnishings; LeDuc was a statesman, not a politician.
All the windows have hand blown galss panes, as all the rest of the windows in the house have. Notice the irregularities in the glass. These are also 10 1/2 feet high and 6 feet wide.
The fireplace is of black and gold marble. Above the fireplace, which is Italian, is a French gold leaf mirror.
In addition to enteraining President Hayes in 1878, in this room LeDuc with a group of concerned citizens entertained the 1866 State Legislative Committee in an effort to gain for the city the State Agricultural College. At the time, a federal grant was available for each state to build an agricultural college. Citizens showed the committee the State Hospital grounds and offered them several acres of land and a stone building. The decision made by the legislators was that the agricultural school should be near the state fairgrounds where we find it today.
The chandelier is English crystal, and the sconces on either side of the fireplace match.
The marble-topped hall table was made for ladies to check their petticoats when entering a house (ntoice the mirror below).
On either side of the fireplace you will also notice a door. These led to very deep closets with shelves used for china and glassware storage. The fact that this house had closets was unusual as many homes of this period still used wardrobes.
This room is also unqiue in the fact that it has two doorways. This made for less congestion and better flow of traffic - especially when entertaining.
The mahogany sideboard was made in New York City in about 1810, and is of much lighter design than most other Duncan Phyfe pieces (notice feet).
The table and chairs are of Sheraton design.
Carroll Bradford Simmons
...For many years he has been a national authority in his field. Specialists restoring historical interiors seek out his advice. To sight a personal experience - back in the early 1950s I watched him pack and crate the materials for an entire American Primitive room for the National Museum of Japan. Their curators were sent to America, stopped at San Francisco, first, then were sent on to New York. This city sent them to Seattle. Seattle sent them to C.B. Simmons of Hastings as the best source for their museum...
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