DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Shiny new kitchen equipment, a modern furnace and fresh paintwork are among the recent updates at the historic Iowa governor's mansion thanks to a successful fundraising campaign.
Just over $2 million has been pledged to a fundraising effort led by the Terrace Hill Foundation for improvements and to establish an endowment for the Victorian mansion donated to the state in 1971 for use as the official governor's residence. The fundraising has exceeded the $1.6 million goal set two years ago, and several key renovation projects have already been completed.
"It turned out better than we thought," said Barbara Filer, the Terrace Hill administrator, who has worked on and off at the mansion since 1988.
Not all the improvements to the three-story building perched on a hill just outside downtown Des Moines are visible to the public eye. About $700,000 went to fully redo the basement kitchen, which had seen little improvement since the 1970s. A new energy-efficient heating and cooling system cost $1.3 million— an expense that was shared with the state. Those updates were long overdue, said Filer.
"The Branstads love to have people visit here. They love to entertain," she noted Friday, as the mansion was being put to rights after a Halloween bash the previous night.
Some more esthetically pleasing improvements include repairing plaster walls and repainting traditional stenciled wall art in the dining room and an upstairs hall. On deck for the future are new storm windows for the first floor and bathroom updates in the basement level.
Filer said the fundraising dollars were essential because the state only budgets about $500,000 annually for upkeep and staffing at the mansion. Some additional funding goes to two household employees.
"We've been conservative with state money," Filer said. But she noted that the house is a special place to many Iowa residents. "Everybody loves it. It's one of the neatest houses in the state of Iowa and we're very proud of it."