By Grace Webb
Perhaps one of the most eye-catching buildings in Mankato is the historic Hubbard House, an elegant mansion that sits on the corner of South Broad Street. The house was built in 1871 after Rensselaer D. Hubbard, the famous flour baron and owner of the Hubbard Milling Company, purchased the property.
The original home was smaller than the one that can be toured today. In 1871, Hubbard’s family was not fully formed, so there wasn’t as great a need for space. The house was still considered a mansion, however, will the Mankato Weekly Record calling it the “handsomest home in Mankato.” It was a brick and wood building, with extremely rich decorative details. In fact, these details brought it more attention than did its size. Hubbard also made sure his home was fitted with both gas and electric lights, and he owned the first home telephone in the city. The estimated cost of construction came to about $12,000.
Hubbard expanded his home’s lot in 1881, when a fire burned down his neighbor’s home and Hubbard bought the land from him. Seven years later, the family remodeled the mansion and added extra rooms. A few years later, builders constructed a brick carriage house in the rear of the lot, which was called the “finest barn in the southern Minnesota area and without equal anywhere in the state outside of the Twin Cities.”
In 1905, Mrs. Hubbard hired a decorating firm from Minneapolis to redecorate the place. The firm added silk wallpaper, cherry paneling and Tiffany light fixtures all around the house.
The Hubbard House stayed in the Hubbard family until 1938, when the building was passed on to the Blue Earth County Historical Society. It was used as a museum for some time before converting it back into a mansion that visitors could tour. Restoration began at the Hubbard House in 1993, with more than $300,000 spent to recreate the original home.
The Hubbard House is open for guided tours weekends May through September. Check our calendar for special events at the Hubbard House