Mansion work costs state $1.7 million Public funds used by Schaefer for most renovations

July 17, 1991|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- More than $1.7 million in public money has been spent on extensive renovations to the Governor's Mansion and grounds since Gov. William Donald Schaefer took office in 1987, according to state records.

A review by The Sun of cartons of documents pertaining to the work done at the mansion shows that Governor Schaefer and his official hostess, longtime companion Hilda Mae Snoops, decided just about everything inside and outside the mansion except the slate roof needed to be replaced, recovered, reupholstered, refinished, repainted, repaired, repaved, replanted, rewired or simply rejected.

Sensitive to criticism of mansion projects, Mr. Schaefer protested last fall that much of the money spent there was raised privately -- though he feared the public believed otherwise. But in fact, the state records are evidence that most of the renovations were paid for with public money.

In addition to the $1.7 million, the non-profit Governor's Mansion Fund has so far lent more than $835,000 in furnishings and decorations for the building.

Among the expenditures of taxpayer dollars between July 1987 and May 1991:

* $6,569 to replace the mansion's two 7 1/2 -foot-tall front doors. It cost $500 for the five coats of primer and paint alone.

* $165,261 for custom-made replacements of virtually every window in the house. The governor said many of the windows, now more than half a century old, were rotted, leaking or irreparably stuck.

* $3,850 for a private, herringbone-pattern brick barbecue-patio that is shielded from public view by a hedge of evergreens near the new mansion fountain.

* $75 to have Governor Schaefer's name and the year "1988" inscribed in a stained-glass skylight that cost taxpayers more than $7,000 to refurbish.

The documents provide the detail of what clearly has been the most thorough transformation of the 123-year-old house since the original Victorian structure was refashioned in the Georgian-revival style in 1935.

In addition to the state expenditures, the private Governor's Mansion Foundation run by political supporters of Mr. Schaefer donated or lent to the mansion in the past two years china, silver, artwork, Waterford crystal, Oriental rugs and other furnishings.

The Schaefer touch -- or, more precisely, the Snoops touch -- can be found literally from top to bottom: from the repointing of the building's brick chimneys and renovation of its rooftop cupola to the installation of wall-to-wall carpeting in the staff and state police quarters on the four-floor building's basement level.

When a $48,700 contract was awarded in April 1988 to the JRC Construction Co. of Baltimore to renovate parquet floors, hang wallpaper, repair cracked ceilings and build mini-shutters, an official with the Annapolis Public Buildings and Grounds Division of the Department of General Services filled out a form justifying the project. In answer to the question, "What benefits will be derived from completion of this project?", Anthony F. Schuster wrote: "A happy First Family; a restored historic building."

That and other documents demonstrate how virtually everything within the mansion's wrought iron fence -- including the fence itself -- received the attention of workmen during the past four years.

L The cupola was leaking, so it was rebuilt for about $15,000.

Five bathrooms were renovated at a cost of approximately $77,000. Chrome fixtures were replaced with brass; vinyl tile was replaced with ceramic; marble thresholds were installed. The new vanity tops were of top-grade Corian; the new mirrors trimmed in brass; the fixtures made by Kohler.

Nearly the same amount was spent to renovate the large ground-floor kitchen, including almost $20,000 for new cherry and steel cabinets.

For the handicapped, a new ramp was installed outside and an elevator inside. Total cost: About $320,000.

A new entryway was cut into the basement "garden room," below the conservatory and leading to the barbecue-patio. That cost $5,000. Cabinets for the room, some with Corian countertops, cost another $7,000.

Almost $133,000 was spent on the purchase of Scalamandre fabric used extensively for wall coverings, reupholstery and draperies.

New oak parquet floors were installed; hundreds of yards of wallpaper were hung; ceilings were replastered; fireplace hearths were reset or recut and replaced.

Nearly a hundred pieces of antique furniture were sent out for repair and refinishing: Chippendale-style chairs, a concert grand piano, three grandfather clocks, chests, tables, dressers, headboards, poster beds, tilt-top tables, highboys and desks.

Spending outside the house nearly matched the spending inside.

In addition to cleaning and repointing the brick exterior, the entire house was "sealed" with a waterproofing treatment at a total cost of $48,000.

The old brick carriageway behind a hedge along the front of the house -- but out of the view of passers-by on State Circle -- was repaved with Cushwa bricks at a cost of $38,536.

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