Renovated building earns historic designation | RecordCourier.com
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Renovated building earns historic designation

by Linda Hiller

The original Farmer’s Bank of Carson Valley has friends in its owners, who appreciate the 1909 brick structure for what it is – an old building with character, deserving respect and admiration and a registered place in history.

“We like old things, because there’s integrity in things that withstand the test of time and live on,” said co-owner John Campbell, who runs Nevada Gourmet Grocery out of the building in downtown Minden with partner Martha Kinder. “We love antiques – our house is full of them, including us.”

Both in their 60s, these business owners don’t qualify as “antiques,” but Tuesday their building did achieve recognition that definitely qualifies it as historically significant – it’s now officially on the State Register of Historic Places.

“The owners of this bank building wanted to get this building listed, and it was very easy to write because of the integrity of it and the historic significance of one of its founders, H.F. Dangberg Jr., the founder of Minden in 1905,” said Mella Harmon, state historic preservation specialist.

n How to qualify. The other building recently named to the state historic register is the Nystrom Guest House in Reno, built in 1875 in the Gothic architectural style, and significant in several aspects of Reno’s social history, including early development and the divorce trade. Both buildings are deemed “cultural resources worthy of preservation” by the historic preservation office.

Harmon said there are three main criteria for getting a building on the state register – it should be at least 50 years old with a certain degree of integrity, have some sort of historical or architectural significance, and/or be associated with an important person.

Though Minden’s 91-year-old bank building is striking, the main two factors that succeeded in getting it on the list were the connection of the 1909 building with Minden’s founder, H.F. Dangberg Jr., and the age and integrity of the structure. The architect is not known.

Carson Valley structures already on the state register include Walley’s Hot Springs, the Minden flour mill, the Genoa Historic District, the other Farmer’s Bank, the Dangberg house, the Logan Building and the George Brown house.

n A little history. The Farmers’ Bank of Carson Valley was built in 1909. In 1918, the bank’s revenues had grown to more than $700,000 and a larger building was needed, so the new Farmer’s Bank of Carson Valley was built across the street, designed by renowned Reno architect F.J. DeLongchamps.

The original Farmers’ Bank of Carson Valley was the second building Dangberg built in newly-founded Minden and the first to be constructed of brick, which characterized the substantial commercial buildings that followed.

“This structure, which retains a remarkable degree of integrity, is arguably the most significant of the existing buildings relating to Minden’s development,” said Ron James, state historic preservation officer.

Original stockholders in the bank, with the initial $25,000 capitalization raised by 1,000 shares of $25 each, were H.F. Dangberg, W.F. Dressler, C.M. Henningsen, F. Schacht, W. Dangberg, F. Heise, C.F. Springmeyer, R. Kirman, W. Lampe, H.W. Settelmeyer, A. Chartz, F. Neddenriep, R.W. Bassman, H. Neddenriep, F. Fricke, H. Lange and D.W. Park.

After 1918, the Farmer’s Bank building was used as the Minden Post Office until 1974. After that, it was converted to an office building, and in 1996, became Nevada Gourmet Grocery.

n Money well spent. When Campbell and Kinder purchased the building for their gourmet grocery store, they made the selection based on the building’s location and history.

Pictures of the building standing alone grace the walls of Nevada Gourmet Grocery, now a popular meeting place for Valley residents.

“You can see that it was completely surrounded by farmland,” John said, looking at one of the photographs.

In remodeling the structure, the business team spent upwards of $60,000, aided by Roger Falcke of the Genoa Company.

“This was a labor of love for us, and definitely well worth it” Campbell said. “The building had been used for so many different businesses, and the last one was an office, so we had to make quite a few changes.”

The pair gutted the interior of the building, and found that the original tin ceiling, still painted post office green, was above a false lower ceiling. That tin ceiling is what today’s customers see.

They renovated the inside, leaving the big bank safe intact as a “chocolate vault,” and did very little to the outside, which looks much like it did in 1909.

n Onward and upward. Campbell and Kinder said they are thrilled with their building’s listing in the state register and are hoping the same fate awaits it in the national register, for which they’ve already applied. Harmon said it would be another six weeks before they will find out if the national register will accept the application.

“Lots of buildings can make it to the state register, but not the national list,” Harmon said. “We look at the state list more loosely because some buildings aren’t perfectly pristine and only significant locally, but the national register is out of Washington, D.C., and they aren’t as in touch with our Western buildings. However, I think this bank building is perfect for the national register. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t get on.”

n Let this be a trend. Campbell and Kinder said they realize that getting their building listed on either the state or the national list is not something that gives them instant cash or even protection against demolition, as evidenced by the fate of the listed Mapes Hotel in Reno, but both insist that the listing is important to them as well as other Minden and Gardnerville business owners.

“We’d really like to see other businesses apply for getting on the state register, and then we’d have a good shot at making this a historic district like Genoa or Virginia City,” Campbell said.

“We’re hoping that our getting on the list will now set the whole ball rolling for a historic district here,” Kinder said.

“John and Martha are the reason the Farmer’s Bank of Carson Valley got on the list, and now others can follow,” Harmon said. “All they have to do is contact us and apply. It’s free, and there are no regulations once they’re on.”

In the last two years, 18 northern Nevada buildings have been added to both registers, Harmon said.

For more information, go to the Web site: dmla.clan.lib.nv.us (click on SHPO) or call Harmon at 684-3447.