Community House, Parks, Recreation

                    Pretty Flowers & Minden Highways

Photo by Bob Grambling

Just started thinking...were you asking me to identify which pictures were Bob's? Becky and the lifeguard are his. Alos girls at pool, R.O. Machen w/fish, boys @Hunters, boys fishing,kids in wagon, girls on slide, couple at soda fountain, maybe sidewalk skaters, boy exiting pool, skating rink. could be wrong on a few...collage doesn't enlarge well.

Greg Grambling, Class of 1958

Counterclockwise starting with the blindfolded kid: me, Billy Pendleton, Terry Love, somebody's mother, Connie Pendleton, Leah Bridges. Not in the picture but at the party were Robert Tooke, Jack Cross, and Henry Bridges at least


Thanks Greg. We appreciate all your help and the pictures your Dad sent to all of us. 




                                The Fountain In The Park


                                                                                                   The Minden Community House is located in Victory Park.


                                                                                                                            Academy Park


   Whitley Family Reunion, ca.1949, on the Community House stage:  Larry Mays,

 Jo Carol Gordy, Linda Rushing Strickel, Brenda Rushing Farrar, & Ann Mays Harlan.

                 Submitted by: Larry Mays







Griffith Stadium

Submitted by Ann Mays Harlan


In 1838 an appropriation of $1,500 was granted by the State, on representation of Church and others, to erect a building for educational purposes. The house was completed, and Rev. R. T. Boggs placed in charge. The affair was primitive  but the State appropriation gave it a nominal importance. By 1850 the Minden female academy was brought into existence. A house was erected by the school, W. A. Drake, Sr.., subscribing $1,500. toward its construction. In July, 1852 D. Murrell, J. Gibbs and T. Gibbs donated 80 and 2/3 acres to the Male Academy. The school reopened in 1850 under its new name.


                        THE MINDEN MALE ACADEMY

P2351 Minden Male Academy pictured in the 1800s . Two U.S. congressmen attended this school, John T. Watkins and John N. Sandlin. It closed in 1898, when the Minden public school opened. Today, a small gazebo that resembles the well covering sits on the same site in the Academy park. See the picture below.

Compliments of Archives and Special Collections La. State University - Shreveport One University Place, Shreveport, La. 71115-2399.


                                                                                                                          Average attendance in 1890 is said to be about 100.                                      

P2684 Minden Male Academy, Minden, La. Compliments of Louisiana State University Archives & Special Collections, One University - Shreveport, La. 71115-2399  (F157) (F302)         

 In February, 1858 W. A. Drake donated to the city the Male Seminary property; trees planted on the parallelogram.  Academy Park is now located on this site.

                                                                                                            PA2358 MINDEN MALE ACADEMY ON SULLIVAN STREET






                             Ca 1900 F=132 Compliments of Archives & Special Collections La. State Univ. Shreveport One Univ. Pl. Shreveport, La. 71115-2399.  

The last remaining building of the Minden Male Academy was torn down during the seventies. The building was moved to the corner of East and West and Sullivan Street where it became an apartment house. It became known as the "Honeymoon Hotel" because so many newly weds began their lives together in the apartments.    

              Billy found these two cards at a sale. I am trying to determine which one is the best picture before I take one off the board. Let me have your opinions. They were taken in 1908.  I do not recognize the home. Is this the home now occupied by Mrs. Monk?

The impact of the Minden Male Academy

An often-confused fact in Minden history is the difference between the two major antebellum educational institutions in our town, the Minden Male Academy and the Minden Female College. Most of the attention locally has been paid to the Female College an institution that earned a south wide reputation for academic excellence and attracted students from as far away as Ohio. However, the legacy of the Minden Male Academy is equally distinguished, and although it didn't offer college level courses, it actually operated for a longer period than the Female College, and numbered many distinguished men among its faculty and alumni. Today's Echo of Our Past will examine the lasting impact of the Minden Male Academy.

The Minden Academy

The foundations of both the Minden Male Academy and the Minden Female College began in 1838 with the establishment of the Minden Academy. This institution received an appropriation of $1500 from the Louisiana Legislature to erect a building at Minden for "academic purposes." The idea of a school was originated by Charles H. Veeder, the founder of Minden, who worked with area ministers to set up this school. Minden was one of the few communities in Louisiana to have a school that could be considered, at least in part, public. The Rev. R. T. Boggs was the first teacher and the school was located on what is today the site of Minden High School. The recent decision to remodel and expand the present Minden High School facility will assure that those ground will serve as home to a school into the seeable future, just as they have for the past 166 years. The second Principal of the school was Henry M. Spofford, who became a prominent attorney after leaving Minden. During the years of Reconstruction, Spofford became a key member of the "Redeemer" movement in Louisiana Democratic Party politics. Henry Spofford later served on the Louisiana State Supreme Court. Spofford was followed at the Minden Academy by a Mr. Burke, The Rev. William Brooks, and finally The Rev. W. H. Scales. While the school was by nature a private school, the state appropriation required that part of the original $1500 be used to create a fund to pay for the education of indigent students. The Minden Academy operated for about 12 years until 1850. In that year political considerations made changes in the structure of the school necessary.

The Louisiana Constitution of 1845 made the use of any public funds for the benefit of private schools, including the indigent student fund, illegal. The Minden Academy continued to operate for about 5 years without the state funds until it was reorganized in 1850. At that time, local civic leaders, led by W. Abner Drake, decided to split the institution into two separate schools, one for males and another for females. The Minden Male Academy was built with funds given by Drake on a plot of land he donated for the school. Later, in July 1852, Drake, Drury Murrell, J. Gibbs and T. Gibbs donated an additional 80 2/3 acres to the Male Academy to complete the campus. Today, the campus of that school is Academy Park. The apparent idea behind the split was that the Female school could be expanded to include college level courses and attract enrollment from outside the area. It was in this same period that the Mansfield Female College, which endured into the twentieth century before merging into Centenary College, was established.

The Same Leader

At first, the Male Academy and the Female Seminary operated under the same headmaster. Some accounts list the first President of the two schools as John S. Garvin; however, most sources name John D. Watkins as the first head of both institutions. Born in Caldwell County, Kentucky in 1828, Watkins graduated from Cumberland College and came to Louisiana as a teacher. While holding his position at the Minden Male Academy he read law at night and was admitted to the bar in 1852. That same year he was named District Attorney and gave up his post at the college. He later had a distinguished career as an attorney and public official, serving as District Judge, State Senator, and delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention in 1879, in addition to being the Democratic nominee for Congress from the 4th District in 1874.

Upon Watkins' resignation from the Minden Male Academy, his assistant, A. B. George, became Principal. Like Watkins, George had been reading law at night and was admitted to the bar in 1855, and then gave up his post at the Academy. Born in Wilcox County, Alabama in 1828, he first met J. D. Watkins at Cumberland College where they were both students. George graduated in 1850 and came to Minden to work with Watkins. After leaving the Academy, he served as an Alderman and Mayor of Minden, while engaged in a law practice with Watkins. George also served as editor of the Minden Democrat, District Attorney, State Senator, District Judge, and along with Watkins was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1879. Eventually, George left Minden for Shreveport after being elected to the State Court of Appeals

Seperate Leadership

Separate leadership of the Male Academy and the Female College seems to have begun in 1853 when the Female Seminary was reorganized as the Minden Female College. Professor Slack was named President of the Female College, while George remained the head of the Male Academy.

In later years, the Male Academy had other outstanding leaders. W. E. Paxton headed the school in the years immediately after the Civil War. Paxton was also the pastor of the Minden Baptist Church while leading the Academy. He was a leader among Louisiana Baptists and wrote what is still considered the definitive history of the early years of the Baptist Church in Louisiana.

Sumpter D. Spann served as an instructor at the Minden Male Academy for many years before becoming the Principal of the institution in the 1880s. Spann was remembered for coming to class each day with a bundle of switches. Usually he managed to use all of these switches as tools of discipline before the day ended. Around 1870, Professor Spann built the home that is today the residence of Mrs. J. W. Dickinson on Pennsylvania Avenue. The street leading to this home bears Spann's name.


Among the graduates of the Minden Male Academy were some of the leading citizens of North Louisiana. John T. Watkins, son of J. D. Watkins, and John N. Sandlin, both graduates of the Academy, had remarkably similar political careers. Both served as District Attorney, District Judge, and were elected to eight terms each in the United States House of Representatives. Sandlin's brother, McIntyre Sandlin, another alumnus, served as Mayor of Minden and as Webster Parish Tax Assessor for 28 years. Thomas W. Fuller, Jr., long-time Minden newspaper editor and Superintendent of Webster Parish Schools graduated from the Minden Male Academy in the 1870s. William G. Stewart, President of the Webster Parish School Board for whom Stewart Elementary School was named, was also an alumnus of the Male Academy, as was David W. Pratt, a two-term Sheriff of Webster Parish. Members of such leading local families as the Drakes, Drews, Crichtons, and Webbs also were alumni of the school. In fact, nearly all the business and governmental leaders in Minden in the years between the end of the Civil War and the first decades of the 20th century were homegrown products of the Minden Male Academy.

The End of an Era

The Minden Academy operated successfully for many years, well into the 1890s, after the Female College had been closed and reopened in another form as a business school. Ironically, a change in the Louisiana Constitution in 1845 had brought about the creation of the Minden Male Academy and another change in the Constitution, taking place in 1898, caused its demise. Provisions of that state charter required public schools systems be created. In Minden, the Male Academy and the women's school were combined to form the new Minden Public School, which met in the old Female College Buildings. Eventually this school became Minden High School shortly after 1900.

After the death of the Male Academy, the property was converted into a park. The original building constructed by Drake was purchased for $50 at auction in May 1903 by John T. Watkins. He had the building remodeled and moved to the corner of East & West and Sullivan. It served for many years as the home of a granddaughter of John D. Watkins. Eventually it became an apartment house that earned the nickname the "Honeymoon Hotel" because so many young married couples from Minden made their first home in the building. When that building was torn down in the 1970s, the last tangible artifact of the Minden Male Academy vanished from Minden. However, the name of that school has lived on in Academy Park, named for the institution of learning on that site for a half-century. The Minden Male Academy, while not as well known as the Minden Female College, is also a very significant Echo of Our Past.

Minden Male Academy - Click for High Resolution

The Minden Male Academy is pictured as it was in the 1880s










This is a small park. This  view shows some of the lovely

   old homes on East and West Street   

    The Fitzgerald House faces Mcdonald & Lewisville

   Compliments of Billy Baldwin, Class of 1955




















             Submitted by Gary Mathews - September 2000   

             This park is between the Lewisville Road and McDonald Street


















An Overview of McDonald Street  and the tennis courts

Submitted by Gary Mathews - September 2000

The second photo shows a view of the tennis court. Between the tennis court fence and the lamp post in the center of the photo you can see a picnic table at the very back next to the old Fitzgerald home property line. This picnic table is sitting on what was once the wading pool. This wading pool was where  I was first exposed to a swimming pool experience as a preschooler. My mother took Jamie and me to this wading pool during the summers when we were toddlers.  The city didn't completely remove the pool, they just filled it in and laid brick where it was originally, then added the picnic table to the spot.  I have so many fond memories spending time in this park as a small child that I currently play tennis there when I visit Minden. 

    Ann Mays Harlan

"Beth Drew Weaver" 1942-1996   












         This tile is inset in the sidewalk at the edge of the fountain in Academy Park.

















Bo Cook and Ben Hunter enjoy playing golf at the Country Club



Victory Park


Ann Mays - Summer 1957 in the Lifeguard chair at Victory Park - Swim Team photo for the 1958     






















I recognize Bo Drake as the life guard during 1954/55












Ann Mays and James Allen McCabe


 SUMMER OF 1954       









  Looks like James Allen McCabe and Roy Glen Baggett to me.













The new City of Minden Recreation Complex.  There are several baseball fields below the hill to the right of the building. There are several tennis courts to the left of the building.  It is located on the I-20 East service road between the Sibley Road and La. Hwy 531.


                          MY DAD'S BIRTHDAY

As a child my Grandfather Gresham had fruit & nut trees. Apples, peaches and pears
so my Dad knew when the flowers would bloom.

March 2nd would have been my Dad's birthday. He would have been 105 years old.
He left home when I was only 13 years old. I missed him very much and prayed every night he would come back home but he never did. Before he died I went to see him. The day before I left he died he asked me if I still had the pear tree in my back yard. I assured him that I did. The last time I saw him as we were getting ready to leave his room he said to me "Every day on my birthday look out your back window because I am going to send you a bouquet of flowers." Whenever I see pear trees in bloom I always remember my Dad

Today, I would like to thank Benton and Pat Irby for these three beautiful pictures.
                    THE PEAR TREES
In the old lumbering company town of Clarks, this pear  tree  stands near the railroad track, and the restored company commissary can be seen in the background.
There is a Civil War fort site, a tourist attraction in the town of Harrisonburg, which is located on the banks of the Ouachita River.  This pear tree was standing near an antebellum home in the old downtown area.
I am sure you are familiar with the town of Winnfield, the home of the Huey and Earl Long dynasty.  The pear tree shown here was all alone in a pasture near the Long homeplace.
These pear trees are sending you a bouquet from your father and us.

Benny and Pat Irby


Clarks, La. Compliments of Pat & Benny Irby; 3-9-07
















Photo of a Pear Tree taken in Clarks, Louisiana, Compliments of Benton and Pat Irby










                                                    Harrisburg, Louisiana, photo compliments of Pat & Benton Irby 3/12/07















  Photo by Ellen Baskerville, April, 1990 as she drove around Caney La
































 Minden in the fall










Country Roads










   Lonesome Roads











Louisiana Highways and ByWays










      Indian Summer










It took 20 years to built I 20.














I-20 near  Minden, La. - 2004




Jim Gritzbaugh took this picture May 2004 on I-20 when

 the wild flowers were so pretty.









I'm going to try and attach a few images to this message. I'm on the road on my laptop and don't have Photoshop installed, so I may have to wait until I get home to shrink the images. But these four pictures are a picture of my Mother standing in front of the City Park Fountain in the Spring of 1942; a postcard dated 1910 of that same fountain in "Town Park"; there are also two images of the park and bandstand after the 1933 tornado, in one of them it appears the fountain may be partially visible in the background.

Submitted by: John Agan, Class of 76,& Webster Parish Historian



Mrs. Juanita Agan, Spring, 1942 in front of the city park fountain


City Park after the tornado


Bandstand after May 1933