Miss. Governor’s Mansion gets nearly $50K touchup

Published 3:13 pm Friday, November 20, 2009

NASCAR fans are helping the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion get a small facelift.

The state is spending $49,675 for a private contracting crew to repaint the four front columns and to do other maintenance work on the porch.

That’s almost as much as the $50,000 the state spent to build the two-story home in 1842.

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State finance records obtained by The Associated Press show McGuffie Painting and Waterproofing Co. of Jackson is doing the spruce-up job. Scaffolding went up several days ago, and the work should be complete by Dec. 4, before Gov. Haley Barbour and his wife, Marsha, have Christmas receptions and the decorated home is open for holiday-themed public tours.

The work comes during a year when lagging tax collections have forced Barbour to slice millions from the state budget.

The repairs are not being paid out of the general budget. Instead, the money comes from the $35 people pay to buy specialty car tags with NASCAR logos, said Kevin Upchurch, executive director of the state Department of Archives and History.

Upchurch described the work as “deferred maintenance.”

“It’s stuff that should’ve been done a long time ago,” he said.

The mansion survived the burning of most of Jackson by Union troops during the Civil War.

Gen. William T. Sherman used the mansion briefly as a command post, according to a book by historian David Sansing and Carroll Waller, wife of former Gov. Bill Waller.

The 167-year-old mansion is the second-oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the nation, according to the state Department of Archives and History. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

House Speaker Billy McCoy of Rienzi, a Democrat who sometimes battles Barbour over budgets, was among the lawmakers who decided several years ago that proceeds from the specialty car tags should be put into a maintenance fund for the Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, the Old Capitol and the War Memorial Building in downtown Jackson.

“We want to keep our state buildings here in the capital in a pristine manner,” McCoy said Wednesday. “I’m for keeping the Governor’s Mansion in pristine, A-number-one condition.”