A comprehensive museum system serving Dakota County as well as the Twin Cities metropolitan area and beyond, the Dakota County Historical Society (DCHS) collects, preserves, promotes and presents the history of Dakota County. For over 72 years DCHS has built a 20,000 piece collection and now operates two museums, regularly publishes new research, and provides more than 70 public programs and exhibits annually at facilities across the County.
The Lawshe Memorial Museum at 130 3rd Avenue North in South St. Paul is the headquarters for DCHS, home to the museum's collections, and the location of a high-quality public research library. The Lawshe museum is also home to a permanent main street exhibit, several semi-permanent and temporary exhibits, and two annual exhibitions by community partners.
DCHS also operates the LeDuc Historic Estate at 1629 Vermillion Street in Hastings, MN. The four acre Estate is listed on the national register of historic places, in large part because it is one of the most intact examples of a home built based on the design of renowned landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing. The house itself is in the Gothic Revival style and is matched by a carriage barn and icehouse. In an unusual turn of events, the home was built by William and Mary LeDuc during the Civil War (1861-1865) despite William serving in the Union Army and Mary living in Ohio with her parents during the conflict. The LeDuc family story is told at the Estate and the prominent role William, Mary and their children played in the development of Minnesota is both remarkable and often overlooked.
A record 73 public programs and exhibits are scheduled for 2011. This extraordinarily high level of programming is made possible by 600 members, more than 5,000 hours of work by more than 200 volunteers, and a dedicated staff of 3 full-time and ten part-time staff. These events range from 26 presentations and workshops on a variety of cultural history and natural history topics to interactive events like Over the Brink: Civil War Weekend and the Vermillion River Walking Tour. Exhibits and events are hosted at museums, three government centers, the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, and community libraries. Please see www.dakotahistory.org for more information.