Dakota County Historical Society
To preserve, interpret and promote the history of Dakota County.

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 servant.

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.

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