Group formed for restoration of governor's residence

Mansion's staff prepares for holiday open house

Posted: Monday, December 06, 2004

The Governor's House needs a makeover, according to first lady Nancy Murkowski.

Murkowski and the governor's staff are busy preparing for the annual holiday open house this Tuesday, but Murkowski said the historic building is plagued by water damage, deteriorating pipes and cracks in the pillars, columns and walls.

Murkowski has established the Friends of the Alaska Governor's Mansion Foundation to raise money to fix the 92-year-old executive residence. The foundation is selling holiday ornaments at $20 apiece, depicting the Governor's House with a replica of the Alaska State Seal.

"The mansion is really a treasure and it belongs to the people of Alaska," she said. Murkowski formed the foundation in earlier 2004 after noticing cracks in the front porch columns and water damage to window frames throughout the house. The exterior of the building needs a complete overhaul and the south retaining wall is cracked, according to residence manager Karen Newton. The butler's pantry leaks and the upstairs family room began leaking last Thursday, leaving the ceiling blistered with water damage, Murkowski said.

The foundation does not have a fund-raising goal and Murkowski said she was uncertain how much the renovations would cost, she said.

Open house entertainers

• Aurora Strings, directed by Xia • Creche Tableau, performed by Brownie Troop #13 and led by Emily Kane • Floyd Dryden Middle School Honor Choir, directed by Rebecca Ricker and Julia Bastuscheck • Glacier Valley Baptist Messengers, directed by Lorraine Marshall • Juneau Christian School Carolers, directed by Freddy Cummins • JDHS Instrumental Ensemble, directed by Ken Guiher • JDHS Jazz Choir, directed by Rod Pocock • Juneau Jubilee, directed by Jane Mulready • The Victorian Carolers

Local magician Jeff Brown will perform tricks and state commissioners will serve drinks and treats.

"It's nothing major, except the columns, which might need to be replaced," she said.

She said the Pacific Seafood Processors Association has donated $10,000.

The house was built in 1912 with a $40,000 appropriation from the U.S. Congress and has been occupied by nine territorial governors and 10 state governors. In 1976, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Meanwhile, Murkowski said the house staff has prepared for months for the open house.

The tradition of the governor's open house began a year after the residence was built and gives Alaskans a chance to meet the governor and first lady, and partake in baked treats, candy, cider and holiday music. More than 3,000 locals have attended the event in previous years.

"Our table will be filled with mounds of more that 16,050 holiday cookies, 1,200 slices of assorted breads, 2,640 tarts, and 6,000 pieces of homemade candies," Murkowski said in a statement.

The dining room to the residence will display gingerbread houses by Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School students. The interior will feature decorations in red, gold and ivory, and a Christmas tree from Prince of Wales Island, Murkowski said.

Those with accessibility needs can get in touch with Karen Newton at 465-3500 to arrange a special entry from 2:30 to 3 p.m. The open house, at 716 Calhoun Avenue, runs from 3 to 6 p.m.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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