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Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023

The Villas at Spanish Court

Spanish Court-7

Choose your style with different themed units at The Villas.

From eight dilapidated units to a designer’s dream getaway

Just down the block from the venerable Minden High School is a group of buildings that have recently undergone an amazing transformation.

They were once known as The Spanish Court Apartments. When Sara McDaniel bought them in the fall of 2021, they were not in good shape.

"These were homes in 1931. They went out of use in the ’80s. So, I have not been able to determine why they went out of use, but they were vacant for about 40 years when I bought them," said McDaniel. "We have newspaper articles that say in 1931, these were the most state-of-the-art apartments in Louisiana. They were built by Mr. F.C. McClanahan. They were the first apartments in Minden."

But as the end of 2021 drew nigh, these once fashionable dwellings were uninhabitable, she said.

"Full of lead paint, asbestos. We had all of that professionally remediated under the supervision of the state of Louisiana. The studs were all eaten up by termites. When we pulled down the old stucco that was on the walls, I don't even know how this place was still standing. The studs were eaten up like halfway."

For almost 18 months, beginning in January 2022, McDaniel and her crew of over a hundred experts turned the dilapidated units into something out of a designer's dream. "We're almost a hundred percent booked every weekend," McDaniel said. "We have booked out for people who want to host a retreat or a girl's getaway. People have booked it out for reunions. We've done a lot of business with weddings.

"We have had people here from Canada, from Mexico, New York, California, D.C., Michigan."

From the outside, what is now called the Villas at Spanish Court are reminiscent of old Spanish architecture like the Alamo. McDaniel salvaged the original eight units and gave each a different personality.

Sara McDaniel

"They all have names.

This one is called Laura, and it's named after Laura Ashley because it's a Laura Ashley rug, Laura Ashley wallpaper, Laura Ashley art and Laura Ashley bedding. When I come into this room, it looks very nostalgic, kind of like your grandma's house.

The one next door is more mid-century modern and eclectic. We have another that's farmhouse style, one that's beachy, one that's butterflies."

She explained that the transformation, besides the remediation required, could have been described as controlled chaos. "You had your carpenters that were here, but they had to work in tandem with the electricians and the plumbers to make sure that everything was getting done in the correct order. Probably the biggest challenge was managing all these multiple subcontractors."

Completed in February of this year, McDaniel said people watched the progress through a couple of national periodicals and on her own social media site.

Sara McDaniel and her crew spent 18 months turning her inspiration into reality.

"We added all of these back porches, and we've still got some landscaping to do. It was a hard summer with all of the hot weather. Every villa has a patio," she added.

Besides boasting original tile in all the units, some in slightly better shape than others, that is approaching 100 years old, McDaniel said quite a few stories of historical interest have surfaced during her research.

"We have newspaper articles like Mrs. So-and-So at the Spanish Court Apartments hosted bridge at her house. I've heard one story that a lady of the night lived there, and gentlemen suitors would be coming and going. We heard another story about poker tournaments that happened here.

Every villa has a patio, and there is plenty of community space for your group.

Look like a great getaway for your gang? Plan Ahead: most weekends are booked.

The Laura Ashley-inspired bedroom feels like a weekend at Grandmas.

"There are very few people who are still alive who lived here, and I've tried to track them down. A lady who lived [in one of the units] said that a neighbor had jars of snakes in their refrigerator. I don't know what that was about."

Minden is a hub for outdoor activities and celebrations, like the Germantown Festival, Mardi Gras, St. Jude events, and even kayaking and other water sports.

But today, there are no snakes, no rotting studs or crumbling stucco. McDaniel gives a lot of credit to her staff, Holly Monday, Brandi Cade, Deb Fuller and Ashley Harris. Apparently, all these ladies are doing something right.

"Just go read our Google reviews," McDaniel suggested. "Straight five stars, people call it an experience. It's so much different from a hotel room. We have high-end bath and body products. We have our own custom-blended coffee. They love being able to stay in an historic structure and see what life was like in 1931."

For more information and pictures, visit www.mindenstays.com.


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