MINDEN, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A grand home in Minden’s Historic Residential District has been restored and is now dressed in her holiday finery, thanks to a local family that cares deeply about preserving history for future generations.
The exquisite 5,600 square-foot, 5-bedroom home Samuel Grigsby Webb built for his daughter in 1910 is connected to another building that is perhaps more famous in Webster Parish: Webb Hardware.
Samuel Grigsby Webb was the founder of Webb Hardware and Furniture Company, which was located at the corner of Union and Main in downtown Minden. He ran his store for decades and became one of the most prominent businessmen in the town, earning his fortune in both this venture and others (including the railroad) before leaving behind a financial legacy that has lasted for generations.
It’s important to note that two businessmen by the name of Samuel Webb are written into Minden’s history, so be careful if you’re familiar with one Webb family and not the other.
Sam, the founder of Webb Hardware, and his wife Sallie had two children. One of their children died in infancy, but their daughter Juliet was healthy and eventually made them the grandparents of two granddaughters, Juliet and Sallie.
Webb built Juliet a brick mansion that still stands proudly at 1114 Broadway in Minden’s historic residential district, and in this home Minden attorney Sherburne Sentell, Jr.‘s mother Sallie was raised.
“Sallie Hutton was my mother,” Sentell says. “She grew up in the house–it was my grandmother Julia Hutton’s house. Julia was the daughter of Samuel Webb, who lived next door.”
Sentell says he visited his grandmother a lot when he was a child.
“The house was always well kept,” Sentell recalls. “I remember we had great Thanksgiving dinners–just wonderful meals.”
Sentell remembers his grandmother’s tennis court and a dairy, too. The dairy behind the home wasn’t just an ordinary milk barn, either.
“They made milk for the whole town,” says Sentell. “When they sold the dairy, it became the Hinton Dairy. Hinton eventually sold to the Sanitary Dairy.”
Now an entire neighborhood, and even one of the town’s grocery stores, sits on some of the dairy’s former lands. An old lemon tree behind the house is a reminder of the home’s agricultural past.
But despite the lack of modern farming, what does survive of the old homeplace is more than impressive. The home is so impressive, in fact, that a local man heard it was for sale and bought it without even asking to take a look inside.
Jim Huffman says he heard the house was coming up for sale and called the owner immediately. Before they ended their phone call, he’d bought the place.
The deal went through in March, then Huffman began to piece together clues and use them in the restoration. The Huffmans had planned to take down the wallpaper and replace it, but when they found an original set of instructions the wallpaper in the attic, they knew they couldn’t take it down.
And once they made their way into the kitchen, another historic detail emerged.
“If you’ll look at this wall here in the back of the cabinet, it has never been painted, and you could tell that it was this periwinkle color,” says Huffman. “So that’s the color we painted the kitchen. It brought it back to what it once was.”
It’s easy to tell Huffman loves the home, the history, and the heritage. Hutton, his wife Kimberly and his daughter Elsie run Huffman Manor, the Bed & Breakfast, through Huffman Management. Huffman’s parent-in-laws Jack and Melody act as Innkeepers and also pour their energy into maintaining the house Samuel Grigsby Webb built in 1910.
Huffman says he doesn’t consider himself a historic preservationist–he simply considers himself someone who loves old homes.
When asked where that love for historic houses comes from, Huffman says, “I grew up in a home that was built in the 1800s, set on Government Street in Mobile, Alabama. My father taught me that you never really own an old home. You’ve been saddled with the responsibility of making sure it’s in great shape for the next tenant.”
Prior to being named Huffman Manor, the home Samuel Grigsby Webb built in 1910 was also known as Grace Estate.
“It was a restaurant, an events center, and a B&B for eight years. We’re just a B&B for now,” says Huffman.
All the roofs on the carriage house were collapsing when the Huffmans bought the property. They had to be rebuilt and re-roofed. A wall inside of the home had to be rebuilt, too, and thousands of square feet of rotting wood had to be replaced. But Huffman says it is worth the effort.
One of Huffman’s favorite details about the lovely home is the original windows, which are in excellent shape.
“Glass represented money back then,” he says. “The size of the windows on this home are pretty outrageous. Along with the size of the windows, there are two glassed-in porches.”
The hand-poured glass windows show their imperfections, which make them appear to be perfect to those who know the difference between historic and modern glass.
And though special attention has been paid to historic detail and preservation, all of the rooms in the home have convenient modern updates, too, like Alexas so that nobody has to worry about setting a clock. And multiple charging cords in every bedroom.
“We try to make that easy,” says Huffman, who works full-time in the hospitality industry.
“Each bathroom has a stained glass window,” he says with a smile. “These were the years of Tiffany glass, and you can see they used Tiffany colors in the stained glass throughout the house.”
Huffman says the project has been a work of love and that it wasn’t for his in-laws, Jack and Melody, he would have “pulled his hair out.”
“We bought this house because it’s in our neighborhood, and we want to see it brought back to life and treated the way a grand old lady, a grand old home, should be treated.”
Huffman says all the electrical has been redone, all the plumbing has been redone, and all the bones of the home will remain intact for the next 100 years.