When retired art professor Lynn Namminga began to restore his home in Deadwood’s historic Presidential District a decade ago, he made a small wooden sign to place in the yard announcing the start of the renovations. In large letters at the center of the sign he painted the name of the home: OGDEN HOUSE. When a pair of older passerbys misread the sign and began to investigate his front porch and entryway, Namminga graciously took them on a tour of his property.
“I showed them everything that I was going to do, and on the way out they realized their mistake and got a little embarrassed,” Namminga recalled. “They said, ‘Oh, we thought it said OPEN HOUSE!’ They were apologetic, but I was more than happy to show them around.”
Namminga has great pride in his Lincoln Street home, and with good reason. The 1892 house was in desperate need of repair when he purchased it in 1995, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at its beautifully restored exterior and the lavishly decorated rooms inside. Almost everything – from the electrical and plumbing to the wallpaper and stained glass – has been restored or rebuilt.
In fact, Namminga was able to accomplish much of his home’s restoration with a combination of his own artistic talents and funding, although he did take advantage of the paint grant available through Neighborhood Housing Services of the Black Hills and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission.
“I was retired, so it gave me a good project to do,” he says. “And I’ve still got a number of things to finish.”
Namminga, who has done a good deal of personal research on the home’s history, says that the opulent house was built by a man named W. Stern, who he guesses was an attorney because he frequently added ‘Esq.’ to the end of his name. It was purchased in 1907 by William and Maude Ogden, who went on to become an influential and politically active Deadwood family.
“They were very active in the Democratic party and hosted a number of prominent Democratic politicians in this house,” Namminga says. “They raised two children here. One went on to become an attorney, and the other ended up as an ambassador to the island of Java, I believe.”
The Ogdens were an affluent family and employed at least one servant, who could be called by bells installed in almost every room. Namminga restored these original fixtures and keeps all the original bells functional – except for one.
“I don’t have the maid’s bell connected in my bedroom,” he says. “I don’t want it accidentally going off at midnight and scaring the heck out of me.”