History of Minden Historical District

 

The boundaries of the Minden Historic District encompass seventy-one buildings, all but two of which are residences. Contributing elements range in date from c.1850 through 1942 and run the gamut stylistically from Greek Revival to Spanish Colonial Revival. The non-contributing element
rate is twenty-one percent.
 

Located just north of the downtown, the nominated district has a very irregular street plan (see attached map). The most important buildings tend to be concentrated on Broadway, which is definitely the city's grand residential rue. Lots along the boulevard are larger than elsewhere in the district, and houses are often set well back from the road. There are numerous mature trees, as is true of the district as a whole. About one-third of the historic houses on Broadway are two or two-and-a-half stories. Interspersed among the larger, more "upmarket" residences are smaller, less pretentious houses. At the southern end of Broadway, near the downtown, are the district's only two non-residential buildings. One is the impressive Gothic Revival Minden Presbyterian Church (1923), and the other is a very historic looking Gothic Episcopal church built in 1950.


For the most part, the other streets in the district have small lots, with houses more densely packed. As is the case with Broadway, landmarks are scattered among more typical houses.
 

 

BREAKDOWN BY PERIODS
 

c.1850-1860 (4%)
 

Minden was founded in 1836 and incorporated in 1850, although only three residences survive from this early period. Two are two story Greek Revival houses with narrow two story porticoes reflecting the width of the central hall (1110 Broadway & 610 Lewisville Road). These represent a local variation in the Greek Revival found within the region and nowhere else in the state. The archetype appears as both a plantation house and town residence. The third Greek Revival house has had its original one story porch across the front replaced, but its other early character defining elements survive (413 East & West St.).
 

1861-1890 (1%)
 

There is only one house from this period, a two story frame house with an elaborate Italianate gallery and decorative work around the principal windows and doors (1111 Broadway).
 

1891-1920 (24%)
 

 

Stylistically, this category includes the Queen Anne Revival and the earliest wave of Colonial Revival. There, of course, is also a transitional period when a house might be Queen Anne in massing and other detailing but have a Colonial Revival gallery. Examples range from simple one and one-and-a-half story galleried cottages to major landmarks.
 

 

 

Landmarks from this period are:
 

(1) McDonald House, 328 Lewisville (#55, N.R.), a two-and-a-half story turreted Queen Anne house.
 

(2) 614 Lewisville Road (#57), a Queen Anne/Colonial Revival house whose porch curves to form a turret-like projection.
 

(3) 101 Homer Road (#29), a large two-and-a-half story Colonial Revival house with a colossal Ionic portico.
 

(4) Drake House, 1202 Broadway (#22, N.R.), a large two story Colonial Revival house with a colossal Tuscan pedimented portico.
 

1921-1942 (50%)
 

 

 

As is true of almost all historic districts in Louisiana outside New Orleans, this category accounts for the largest percentage of buildings. It includes bungalows and two story houses built along bungalow lines, later Colonial Revival houses, one Georgian Revival house, a 1920s Gothic Revival church, a 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival house, and various cottages from the 1930s. Some of the latter are unstyled, while others have steeply pitched gables and prominent chimneys, giving them an overall "Old English" look.
 

 

 

 

 

Major landmarks include:
 

(1) Minden Presbyterian Church, 1001 Broadway (#1), a large, elaborately styled Gothic Revival building with German-looking half-timbering motifs.
 

(2) 1113 Broadway (#11), a two story Colonial Revival house with a one story pedimented entrance porch.
 

(3) 1114 Broadway (#13), a two-and-a-half story Colonial Revival house with a Tuscan one story porch, modillions, and a handsome Palladian motif dormer.
 

(4) 1300 Broadway (#24), a large Craftsman style house with a massive pent dormer and accented with rock-faced concrete blocks.
 

(5) 521 East/West (#37, N.R.), a large two story Spanish Colonial Revival house with round arch windows and a spreading red tile roof (originally a house, now the Webster Parish Library).
 

(6) 411 East/West (#52), a two-and-a-half story Georgian Revival residence with a Palladian motif entrance and elegant dormers.
 

(7) 508 Fort (#61), a huge two-and-a-half story Colonial Revival house with a Mount Vernon style portico.
 

Non-contributing Elements (21%)
 

There are fifteen non-contributing buildings in the district, representing 21% of the building stock. Many are small brick ranch houses. Five are two story residences, but only one of these is truly intrusive in character (1203 Broadway #21). The most interesting non-contributing element is the previously mentioned Gothic Revival St. John's Episcopal Church (#7), which although built in 1950, contributes greatly to the district's character.
It should be noted that a twenty-one percent non-contributing rate is fairly low for a Louisiana district outside New Orleans. Very importantly, the non-contributing buildings are sprinkled throughout the district and hence do not dominate in any particular place.
 

Contributing Elements:
 

The district is significant as an outstanding collection of historic residences, with contributing elements ranging from c.1850 to 1942 (the fifty year cutoff). While certain houses obviously make a greater contribution to the significance than others, any 50+ year old building that has not been altered too badly should be considered a contributing element.
The Minden Presbyterian Church obviously does not relate to the district's status as an outstanding collection of historic residences. It, however, is easily individually eligible for the Register as one of the most elaborate and striking Gothic Revival churches in the region.
 

Alterations to Contributing Elements:
 

Overall, the district's contributing elements are surprisingly well preserved. There are a few instances of vinyl or aluminum siding, sometimes sensitively applied and sometimes not. In no case, however, did the damage seem so severe that the building should be considered non-contributing.  There are also a few instances of column replacement, sometimes with imitation wrought iron. Here again, the impact did not seem serious enough to merit a non-contributing designation. The Minden Historic District is locally significant in the area of architecture because it is easily the most impressive historic residential area in Webster Parish. It achieves this distinction because of the number, range and quality of styled historic residences. Except for Minden and examples of log construction, Webster parish's residential patrimony is undistinguished. The other nine incorporated communities, all quite small, have few styled historic residences. A typical community has a handful of very generic Queen Anne cottages and bungalows sprinkled among plain historic cottages and non-historic houses. Against this background, the architectural significance of the Minden Historic District is evident to even the most casual observer. Not only does it represent the parish's only concentration of styled residences, but examples range from the Greek Revival to 1920s and '30s styles such as Spanish Colonial Revival. Indeed, almost all major residential styles within this time frame are represented, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne Revival, Colonial Revival, Bungalow/Craftsman, and Spanish Colonial Revival.
The Minden Historic District is also noteworthy for the number and quality of landmarks within its boundaries. About one-third of the historic buildings are of sufficient quality to be individually eligible for the Register within the context of the parish, and in some cases, a wider regional context. Many of these are mentioned specifically in the narrative portion of Part 7. As noted, three of the buildings in the district are already listed individually on the Register for their architectural significance.

Historical Minden High School

 

Inventory of Minden Historical Residential District

 

Founding of Minden

 

Founding our Town Government
Minden's Original Charter and Amendments