BEXLEY — When your 13,000-square-foot house with 25 rooms is closing in on a century old, there are bound to be some issues.
Ohio has set aside $2 million to repair the state-owned Governor's Residence in Bexley, which again is occupied by the first couple after former Gov. John Kasich opted not to live in the mansion during his eight years in office.
First up to help ensure the safety of Gov. Mike DeWine and first lady Fran is replacing the rotting 95-foot-long decorative pergola and the portico to which it attaches at the rear of the North Parkview Avenue residence.
The near-$700,000 project to replace the once-vine-covered pergola and the portico is not strictly a matter of aesthetics.
The portico and the pergola, which is partially boarded on top, serve as the only fire escape from the second floor of the residence.
Plans call for replacing rotting timbers in both structures with steel and then facing them with cedar boards to match the existing appearance, said Brian Hammen, a senior facility manager with the Department of Administrative Services.
Since the mid-1920s structure is on the National Register of Historic Places, the state is obligated to maintain its original appearance characteristics, said Peter Gunnell, the state's chief facilities officer.
Also on deck during the initial round of work are repairs to end leaks from the original slate roof, as well as flat roof areas lined with copper, at a cost of up to $300,000.
Once design and engineering are complete, the state will seek bids on the first round of work.
The $1 million remaining in the fix-up fund will be banked to address issues down the line, such as $130,000 replacement of the heating boiler nearing the end of its life and $150,000 in associated piping replacements.
"It's early in the conversation" of what work will be done, Gunnell said. Also on the potential spending list is $220,000 to replace elevator controls and electrical work such as a $55,000 backup generator, which the residence now lacks.
The money was allocated by lawmakers last year when Kasich, who opted to say at his home near Westerville, still was governor.
Every Ohio governor since 1957 — save Kasich — has lived in the residence, which was donated to the state by the Jeffrey family in 1955. Kasich used the residence to host meetings and social events.
The DeWines live at the 3-acre property during the week while making a good-faith effort to return to their family farmhouse near Cedarville in Greene County on the weekends.
While the residence is exempt from property taxes as state-owned, the Franklin County Auditor's Office places its market value at $2.725 million. Public tours of the Jacobean Revival style-residence and its gardens are offered on most Tuesdays.
Taxpayers also cover the Governor's Residence utility bills, which average about $2,700 a month.