Apple Dumplings from the Grant House in Rush City


Rush City, Minnesota


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Rush City was platted in 1870 by the Western Land Association, a Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad Company subsidiary that later became known as St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. The rail line became an essential link between Duluth and the Twin Cities. Rush City evolved into a major trade and service center. This rapid growth led to housing shortages for newcomers hoping to set up business in town and railroad passengers wishing for a comfy place to lay their heads. 

Several hotels soon emerged to fill the need. One of them was the Grant House. Colonel R.H. Grant — a second cousin of President Ulysses S. Grant — previously operated a hotel in Hinckley and believed he knew what visitors to Rush City would want in a hotel. He built a large, home-like structure with wide porches and sophisticated finishes just east of the railroad tracks in 1880. It quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest hotels along the railroad. Just as Rush City was reaching its development peak in 1895, a devastating fire destroyed the Grant House.

Not one to take setbacks lying down, Grant rebuilt the hotel in the same location. This time, the hotel was constructed of pretty red brick with walls measuring 16″ thick. The L-shaped building had balconies on the north and west sides, a full front porch with a balustraded balcony, and was heated by a steam boiler system. The new Grant House opened in 1896 and featured 20 hotel rooms for guests. 

As the city’s growth leveled off during the twentieth century, the Grant House became a noted local landmark. The community embraced the hotel and it became a gathering and meeting place for locals and visitors. Traveling salespeople would set up sample rooms in the hotel to sell their goods before moving on to the next town. 

Four months after the new hotel opened, Grant sold it to A.M. Challeen, who ran the business for eight more years. Since then, there have been several owners who have lovingly maintained the hotel and restaurant. The two most recent owners conducted extensive renovations to the building. 

The Grant House is one of the few buildings from this period that remains virtually unaltered and operating under its original function — not to mention its original name — in the state. Because of its historical significance, the Grant House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Leola’s Apple Dumplings

Served at the Grant House in Rush City, MInnesota.
Servings 6


  • 6 crisp apples like McIntosh or Cortland
  • 6 squares of pie pastry
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • butter


  • 3 cups water
  • cups sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Peel and core the apples, placing in a deep bowl of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice has been added. This will keep apples from browning.
  • Roll out the pie crust dough and cut into 6 squares, large enough to wrap around the apples. Place apple in the center of each square. In the cored apple, add equal parts sugar and cinnamon until half full. Add ½ teaspoon of butter and fill up with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Wrap apples by bringing point of dough together and gently pressing the edges together. If edges will not stick, dab a little milk on edges and then press together. Put into a baking pan, being sure dumplings don't touch each other.
  • Combine the water, sugar, butter, and cinnamon for the sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then pour over apples.
  • Bake for approximately 1 hour.
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