Neighborhoods: In Old Minden, people love their houses |

Neighborhoods: In Old Minden, people love their houses

by Nancy Hamlett

When walking under the stately trees or listening to a concert in the park, it’s best to remember that there is a lot of history in the town of Minden – and it all started with the Dangberg family.

The Town of Minden exists today because H.F. Dangberg wanted the V&T Railway extended to a location near his ranch. The Dangberg Co. provided the right-of-way from Carson City, and built and maintained the livestock shipping facilities to entice the railway. His son, H.F. Jr., planned the town in 1906 and mapped out a community that extended from First through Sixth streets bordered by Railroad Street and County Road.

In 1915, Eighth and Ninth streets were added, and in 1915, when the Legislature moved the county seat from Genoa to Minden, the town grew to 10th Street to accommodate the courthouse.

Alan Reed and his family live in the home constructed for John Dangberg in 1911.

– Still small town. “I grew up in this neighborhood, and it is small town America still,” said Reed. “A lot of the people I grew up with are still in the neighborhood. It has a solid feeling to it, a feeling of continuance.”

Fondly called “Old Minden” by many of the residents, The Record-Courier’s featured neighborhood is a contrast to the new developments that are springing up all over the Valley.

Don Frensdorff and his wife Carolyn moved to Old Minden in 1985. They have owned two houses in the history-rich neighborhood.

“We thoroughly love living in an old house,” said Frensdorff, a teacher at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School. “It is our choice. Old houses have just wonderful personalities. That’s why we live in Old Minden.”

Lori Salvador also moved to Minden in 1985. And not surprisingly, the old houses drew her there as well.

“I used to dream of having one of these houses,” said Salvador. “They are homey. When I looked at this house, I felt like I belonged. It’s comfortable. Peaceful.”

According to Wynne Maule, a native of Minden and the author of a book on the subject, from the time the courthouse was built until the V&T made its final run in 1950, there wasn’t a lot of change in Minden.

“You must remember that what you call Old Minden was all of my Minden,” said Maule. “That was our town. It was a different time and a different pace. And from a kid’s standpoint, there couldn’t have been a better life.”

Maule’s fond memories of Minden focus on the railroad and the park. And it seems that every person who lives in Old Minden considers that park as the anchor of the neighborhood.

“When I moved to Minden I had twin toddlers,” said Lisa Wetzel, a Realtor. “The park was so convenient. In those days (1979) they flood irrigated the park. The kids could splash around with other neighborhood kids.”

“We’d put on shorts and go barefoot,” said Reed about his memories of the park in the 1960s. “It was always on a Tuesday. We didn’t do baseball that day.”

“Swimsuits,” said Maule, who is a generation older than Reed. “We’d slide and splash. But our swimming place was on the river.”

The park has always been a favorite place for kids to congregate, regardless of the generation.

“What I remember best are the endless days of summer,” said Reed. “Every day all of the neighbor boys would meet at the park at 10 o’clock and play baseball all day with only a little break for lunch.”

“I was raised in the park,” said Jacobsen. “When the siren went off at 6 p.m., we knew it was time to go home.”

n Park is popular. Today, all of the events in the park can greatly impact the people living in Old Minden, according to Sheila Byington, secretary to the Town of Minden. The bandstand is a popular site for weddings, and the craft fairs and concerts bring hordes of people into the neighborhood.

“The parades and street celebrations they (the neighbors) should get a special recognition for putting up with all that,” said Byington. “But they don’t complain. Even though it has a direct impact on their homes and front yards.”

“The noise doesn’t bother us one bit,” said Maule. “There are a lot of nice things happening there that we enjoy.”

“The parking is a little wacky when you can’t get into your driveway,” said Salvador. “But most of the people are pretty respectful of the houses. They are pretty darn good. Plus, I love the bands in the summer, to listen to the music.”

“The park is meant for the people,” said Reed. “It’s never too crowded for us. Everything they’ve done with it, the new bandstand, the park items, they’ve been a plus.”

However, Jacobsen says that all residents aren’t enamored by the activities in the park.

“The park is good for the town, but a pain in the neck for the neighborhood,” said Jacobsen. “I know a lot of people share my same sentiment. But I have to admit that I enjoy the activities in the park just as much as anyone else.”

“One of my biggest concerns is the over-commercialization of the park,” said Frensdorff. “It hasn’t happened yet, but it could if we don’t keep an eye on it.”

The park may be central to the neighborhood, and play an important role in the social activities, yet residents feel that there is more to the heart of the neighborhood.

“It’s the neighbors around us that makes it special,” said Reed. “It’s the people. They still have the small time Minden way of life in them.”

“Some of the neighbors are the same as when we moved in,” said Wetzel. “It’s not a neighborhood where people come and go. It’s stable and solid.”

“Everyone watches out for everyone else,” said Salvador. “It’s a general attitude and I think a lot of that is because it is an older neighborhood. People are restoring the houses and we are bonded by a love of the older style of houses.”

Frensdorff agrees. “What makes this a neighborhood is that you choose to live here. If you live in Old Minden, it’s because you love old houses. We all have that in common.”

n Newcomers welcomed. As the next generation of residents move to Old Minden, the more established neighbors welcome them with open hearts.

“Yes, families with young children are moving in, and it reminds me of my youth,” said Maule. “I’d rather see the kids than have it a mausoleum. It adds more to the community.”

“It’s good to see young families back in the area and playing in the park again,” said Jacobsen. “It’s a secure place to live, and that, I think, is the spirit of the whole town.”

“A lot of younger families are moving in, renovating,” said Salvador. “It’s nice to see the little people moving around the community.”

Old Minden residents take great pride in their neighborhood.

“Whether it is someone who has lived there forever or just moved in, they have a pride in their area and take really good care of it,” said Byington.

“I want to keep this house for my son,” said Salvador. “It’s a legacy for him – a piece of history and a large portion of our lives. I’m so proud of this house and this neighborhood.”

Frensdorff thinks that Old Minden’s strength goes beyond the physical attributes.

“People, houses and trees make the neighborhood, but it’s a common goal that makes it special,” said Frensdorff. “Everyone has a sense of pride because of the way it is. It has a nostalgic air about it.”

Many factors combine to make Old Minden a strong neighborhood – a central park, a quaint hometown experience and a common love of a lifestyle.

“Old Minden is a community because there are still enough people around that was a part of the town,” said Maule. “Then there is another part that doesn’t want to see anything historical ruined. Between the two of them, it keeps the community real.”

Additional quotes:

There’s a ton – Pick and choose.

Bruce Jacobsen: “In my heart, old Minden in the true Minden.”

Don Frensdorff: “We aren’t a strong neighborhood in the sense of neighborhood gatherings. We’re a strong neighborhood because of our sense of community.”

Alan Reed: “When you do special things with your kids in the neighborhood that you grew up in, you live your childhood all over again. It’s like flashbacks to a golden time.”

Bruce Jacobsen: “One of the things these kids won’t experience is the corner store. We used to walk to the Minden Merc and we could buy anything we needed. It was a small town with small town things that kids today will never be able to experience.”

Lisa Wetzel: “I have nothing negative to say about old Minden. I wouldn’t have lived here for 20 years if I didn’t love it.”

Lori Salvador: “Last year I saw four bucks come out of an alley. In Minden! It was a tremendous sight.”

Wynne Maule: “As kids we had freedoms, and it was a laid back town. Come to think of it, maybe it still is.”

Don Frensdorff: “History makes this valuable to keep as an old place. All the people that live here keep its integrity.”

Don Frensdorff: “It’s wonderful 355 days of the year, and the 10 days or so that we are inconvenienced are small in comparison.”

Bruce Jacobsen: “We played baseball in the park. Always. No matter what season. And we never ended a game because we were done with nine innings. We’d play until Alan and Mike Reed got into a fight. We’d play ball, they’d fight, we’d go home. And we’d do the same thing the next day and the next.”

Alan Reed: “Move away? If I’ve thought about it, it hasn’t been very much because I really don’t think I’d ever consider it.”

Lori Salvador: “Cleaning out the back flue I found an old whiskey bottle. You’re imagination runs wild as you put a story to that bottle.”