Revitalizing Minden

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A two-person crusade to revitalize Minden has taken on a life of its own.

Sara McDaniel, along with her friend Rachel Miller, were double-handedly responsible for bring HGTV’s Hometown Revival to town.

“Rachel and I instantly connected over our old homes, but also over our desire to make Minden better,” McDaniel said.

Two years ago, HGTV extended an “all call” to flip a small town using the HGTV show “Hometown” and its stars.

“Rachel got that ball rolling and sent the initial letter of inquiry and almost immediately we got a response from the casting director,” she said. “She said they would love to have Minden apply.”

Despite all the hard work to put together a video, Wetumpka, Ala. was selected during that season. The good news: it was so successful, a second season was booked.

“We reapplied and had to produce another mini-TV show about Minden, and we all know the rest of the story … we got it,” she said.

McDaniel, a real estate investor, spoke to the Noon Lions Club Thursday, saying she and Miller had talked for months about revitalization and what they would like to see for the town.

“We spent hours and hours at Broken Bean, making a list of what we would like to see in Minden,” McDaniel said.

Their list includes saving structures, having a downtown that is vibrant and bustles in the evenings and on weekends, a thriving arts scene, ways to bring the community together and attract a younger demographic in order to pace and thrive in the coming years.

McDaniel, who has had several “home” projects, capped her talk to the Lions with the promise of another “huge project.”

Friday, McDaniel revealed the project as the revitalization of the vacant Spanish-style apartments on West Union Street – The Villas at Spanish Court.

Better Homes & Gardens, Cottages & Bungalows, Southern Lady, Southern Living and HGTV Magazine have all shared pictures and stories about McDaniel’s home on McDonald Street. Social media has allowed her to take money from these publications and return it to the community by purchasing other properties and making them beautiful again, while keeping the integrity of the style.

Cottages & Bungalows Magazine and American Farmhouse Style are teaming with McDaniel, who plans to also use local contractors in the apartments’ endeavor.

“This is my most challenging project to date,” McDaniel said. “They were built in 1931, and were the most state-of-the-art multi-family dwellings in the state of Louisiana.”

Near the historic area of downtown Minden, the apartments have been vacant since the 1980s. There are eight living units in three buildings.

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