The Governor’s Mansion renovations

Emily Williams, Contributing Writer

The Governor’s Mansion recently received a spike in interest as scaffolding encompassed the building and the construction noise echoed through front campus; speculation murmured throughout campus about what this meant for the mansion and the community.

“To quash the rumor mill and getting it from the direct source, we [the Governor’s Mansion] are a part of the department of Historic Museums here at Georgia College,” said Director of Historic Museums Matthew Davis. “This is not being turned into a sorority or a fraternity house. This construction is all a part of maintenance.”

The mansion’s initiative is to preserve, interpret, and collect materials and items and further information that tells the story about not only the Governors and their families but the enslaved persons that can be documented at the house during the time that the building was used as the executive mansion from 1839 to 1868.

“We use this as a laboratory to talk about that period [The antebellum, civil war, and reconstruction era] to bring understandings and look at full interpretations as we are very open about issues with enslavement, women’s history and also general politics during this history as well,” said Davis.

The building must undergo an exterior conservation every 10 to 12 years to maintain good building maintenance. In 2012 the Mansion underwent the same work. The exterior conservation is a $600,000 project funded by the general assembly through the budget for maintenance on campus.

This particular project is a repair in paint job to all the exterior wood trim, which is original to the house which was built in 1839,” said Davis. “We also have on the exterior what is called stucco, but over the years, rain and weather will washout the colors, so what we are doing here is also recoloring the stucco through a process called a limewash which will apply all the colors back to the work.”

The project is set to be finished at the end of the calendar year and the scaffolding will come down in early January.

“This project ensures that for all staff, faculty and students here on campus that this educational laboratory is available to them,” said Davis. “This is all a part of our ongoing commitment to put in the effort to preserve and protect this national historic landmark.”

Despite the construction, the Mansion is still open to visitors, and for students and staff, the tours are free. The Mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00. Sunday, they are open from 2:00 to 4:00, with all tours beginning on the hour.

“I do believe the construction has maybe made some people shy away from coming in,” said English major Grace Jones. “I know just talking to friends and classmates they are always shocked to hear it’s still open right now because the construction looks so crazy.”

Once people visit the Mansion for the first time, they will find that it leaves them in awe and wanting to visit again.

“I think Georgia College has gems both in the mansion and in Andalusia, and I think our efforts to preserve them are really worth praise,” said junior English major Charlotte Axel. “I visited it last year for the first time because I was genuinely interested. I honestly must have gone more than three times after that.”

The mansion lies not only in the hearts of visitors but of its employees, too, as the home allows for people to learn and grow together.

“I never thought I would love working somewhere but the mansion is very special,” said Jones. “I love getting to talk to the people who come in. They’re always so curious about what my major is and what the governor’s mansion means to us. It’s very special and I could not imagine a more comfortable work environment. The mansion creates a space to learn history and develop connections as a student.”

Many students pass the Mansion, never venturing in to learn more about the historical home.

“I would tell students to go to the mansion because it’s a stepping stone in understanding the history of their college town, which is actually very interesting and involved in larger scale national history,” said Axel. “Visiting the mansion can also help students find out about ways to get involved at GC, because there are a lot of events there, hosted by the museum itself but also by Greek Life and The Honors College.”

The Governor’s Mansion belongs to the community, faculty, staff and students. The preservation of this important Milledgeville building ensures that all will have a place to gather together to learn and grow with each other.