Governor and first lady: Texas Governor’s Mansion fully restored

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 11:57am

Gov. Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry today announced that the 156- year-old Texas Governor’s Mansion has been fully restored.

“Today is a day for marking the 156 years this structure has served at the heart of the State of Texas, and for looking ahead to the next 150 years and more,” Gov. Perry said. “Today, the Governor’s Mansion stands renewed, as a symbol of Texas’ resiliency and our state’s determination to work together to overcome the greatest of challenges.”

“Texans from across our state came together to rebuild Texas’ home, a living link to our state’s past and a monument to the individuals and families who have made the Lone Star State what it is today,” said First Lady Anita Perry. “The Texas Governor’s Mansion stands once again as a symbol of our proud heritage of bold leadership, revered tradition and fierce independence.”

In October 2007, the mansion underwent deferred maintenance to replace plumbing and electrical systems, install indoor fire sprinklers, and improve handicap accessibility. In the early morning hours of June 8, 2008, an unidentified arsonist threw a Molotov cocktail on the front porch causing catastrophic damage.

The governor and first lady, along with the Texas Legislature, committed to preserve and restore the historic mansion, which has served as the official residence for governors and their families since 1856. It is the fourth oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the country and the oldest governor’s mansion west of the Mississippi River.

The restoration was made possible by a $21.5 million appropriation by the Texas Legislature and a private fundraising effort led by Mrs. Perry, which raised more than $3.5 million from thousands of Texans. The governor and first lady thanked the first responders who helped fight the fire and save the structure from total ruin. They also offered praise to the many agencies that collaborated to rebuild the Texas treasure, including the State Preservation Board and the Texas Historical Commission.

The entire mansion underwent a complete restoration, including a new roof, repairs to the exterior masonry, restoration of the columns and porches, renovations to the kitchen, and the installation of a new geoexchange system to provide more energy efficient heating and cooling. Private funds were used to pay for an addition to the west side, restoration of historical features, improved handicap accessibility, and the completion of landscaping and historical documentation.

For more information about the mansion restoration project and the history of the mansion, please visit: http://governor.state.tx.us/mansion/ and http://governor.state.tx.us/mansion/timeline.

Texas Governor’s Mansion Restoration Process

• October 2007 – Gov. and Mrs. Perry moved out of the Texas Governor’s Mansion in advance of a deferred maintenance project, which was to include a new fire suppression system, updates to plumbing and electrical work, and handicap accessibility. All historical furnishings, art work and valuables owned by the State of Texas and Friends of the Governor’s Mansion were moved to a storage facility. The 1856 windows, historic doors and shutters, and the historic light fixtures were removed from the house for restoration off site.

• June 8, 2008 – An arsonist set fire to the Governor’s Mansion, causing significant structural and architectural damage. 100 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze, and it took an estimated two million gallons of water to put out the fire.

• July 2008 – First Lady Anita Perry established the Texas Governor’s Mansion Restoration Fund, which has raised more than $3.5 million in donations from thousands of Texans. Private funds were used for the addition to the west side, restoration of historical features, such as the Ionic columns, code changes necessary under the new American and Disabilities Act, and the completion of landscaping and historical documentation.

• September 2008 – Well-known historic preservationist and project manager Dealey Herndon was hired by the state to manage the restoration effort.

• July 2009 – Texas lawmakers appropriated $21.5 million to restore the Governor’s Mansion. Restoring the mansion has been a multi-agency effort led by the State Preservation Board (SPB) and includes the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Historical Commission.

• August 2009 – Volz & Associates began work on a Historic Structures Report that was completed in draft form in 2010. The report was managed by the SPB and was funded by the Texas Governor’s Mansion Restoration Fund to inform restoration decisions.

• 2010 – The design phase began with the SPB selecting and contracting with renowned preservation architecture firm Ford, Powell & Carson and White Construction Company.

• October 2010 – Construction and restoration of the exterior project began, including repair of the exterior masonry, columns and porches, production of the signature entablature, and construction of the new roof.

• 2010 to 2011 – SPB worked closely with the City of Austin and finalized an agreement for the transfer of responsibility of Colorado Street from the city to the state. The City retained a utility easement and the state agreed to manage the upgrade of city water lines.

• February 2011 – The interior restoration project began.

• March 2011 – The temporary roof constructed in September 2008 as Hurricane Ike approached Austin was removed and the installation of the permanent roof was completed.

• June 2011 – Installation of a new geoexchange system began in an effort to provide more energy efficient heating and cooling. The system utilizes the stable temperatures of the earth to absorb heat from the house in the summer and provide heat to the house in the winter, and qualifies the Mansion to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating and Austin Energy’s Green Building rating.

• August 1, 2011 – Master builder Abner Cook’s trademark “X-and-Stick” porch railings were recreated and installed at the mansion. Much of the original woodwork was destroyed during the 2008 fire, but parts of the railings were salvaged.

• Summer 2011 – Restoration to the six 29-foot Ionic columns spanning the front porch was largely complete. Lead paint and charred areas of the original 1856 columns were removed, along with debris from the inside of the columns. The columns were restored in place.

• 2012 – Work on the interior project continued, including kitchen renovations, restoration of historic spaces, a new addition on the west side, and new, handicap accessible, code compliant restrooms, and meticulous restoration of the historic millwork, plaster work and finishes. All historic rooms have been restored to their pre-fire appearance.

• June 2012 – The Governor’s Mansion Collection, composed of historic furniture, artwork and pieces owned by the state and the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion were returned to the home. Items included those previously in the mansion and antiques dating back to the earliest years of the state’s history, including the bed used by Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin’s writing desk and portraits of Gov. and Mrs. Pease, who was in office when the Governor’s Mansion was built in 1856. The collection also includes Robert Jenkins Onderdonk’s famous 1903 painting, “Fall of the Alamo” and the Governors’ Memento Collection, a tradition started in the l960s by Texas First Lady Jean Houston Daniel.

• July 2012 – The Governor’s Mansion Grounds Project, including the renovation of the historic grounds and the perimeter fence will be completed. TBG Partners was engaged to research a cultural landscape report that reflects the evolution of the mansion grounds over history.

• July to December 2012 – Work will continue on Colorado Street, anticipated to be complete in August, and the parking lot on the adjacent lot will be thoroughly renovated.

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