A house, but not a home

Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 8:16 AM
Last updated 7:55 PM
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ATHENS, Ga. -- The University of Georgia will spend more than $1 million this year on a house no one lives in - the President's House, an antebellum mansion that sits on an estate on Prince Avenue.

Tricia Spaulding/ Morris News Service
The University of Georgia President’s House at 570 Prince Ave

University presidents have lived rent-free in the big house at 570 Prince Ave. since 1949, when a Columbus foundation donated money to help the University System Board of Regents acquire the property.

UGA President Michael Adams hasn't lived in the house for nine years, however. Adams and his family moved to a Lake Oconee house to get more privacy, said the president, who gets a $19,400 housing allowance from the state as part of his $604,864 compensation package.

Adams is not the first UGA president to move out. Charles Knapp also left for a place of his own choosing after several years, said UGA Campus Architect Danny Sniff.

Although no one lives in the mansion, university workers still maintain and guard the house.

UGA officials documented about $220,000 in expenses last year for the house and 5-acre grounds, valued at about $4.7 million on Clarke County tax records.

The UGA physical plant's budget included nearly $60,000 for two housekeepers to care for the property, and the UGA Police Department budgeted another $79,310 to pay three security guards, along with $996 to maintain an alarm system and $500 in other expenses.

The physical plant also logged nearly $80,000 in work orders for the house, including a $50,533 tab for painting the east side of the building.

Other expenses included $1,775.83 to replace a cracked mirror, $3,868 to regrout pavers and $365 to fix a broken toilet handle in a guard house.

In addition, groundskeepers and other workers visit the 5-acre estate periodically to perform routine chores such as tending the expansive back lawn and gardens, including the formal boxwood parterre at the front of the house.

While Adams doesn't sleep in the big house, he does entertain there, playing host to wealthy donors, new faculty members, his staff and other groups.

"I'd like to know how much money we've raised in that house in the last 13 years," Adams said.

Adams hosted 20 special events at the mansion in 2009, according to records released by the university.

The events included five pre-game receptions before UGA football games, a coffee for the University Woman's Club, a September reception for new UGA faculty members, a reception for the Osborne Film Festival and in December, a holiday luncheon for the president's staff.

He also hosted dinners for the Arch Foundation, the UGA Athletic Association, the UGA Research Foundation, arts and sciences faculty members and the spring commencement speaker.

Adams could move back in one day, he said.

"I've never said we wouldn't move back," he said. And future UGA presidents may choose to live there, he said.

Meanwhile, even the parties have stopped at the house while the mansion gets a $950,000 makeover.

About $250,000 of private money will pay for the renovation, along with $700,000 in state money, according to documents UGA officials submitted to the regents.

This month, an Athens contractor, Whitsel Construction Co., began work on the renovation. Over the next seven months, workers will modernize the kitchen, upgrade storage areas for fragile glass and china, install an elevator that will provide better access for people with disabilities, renovate the boiler room and replace an old furnace, and renovate a laundry room to make a restroom handicap accessible.

The building's smoke and fire detection systems also will get upgrades, Sniff said.

By maintaining the mansion, UGA also is preserving an historic building, administrators say.

Only a few pre-Civil War mansions remain of the dozens that once lined streets like Prince Avenue, housing Athens' elite.

The multi-acre lots of most of the old mansions have been subdivided over the years, making room for more houses on smaller lots. But the President's House remains on its original large grounds, said Scott Messer, a historic preservationist in the UGA Office of University Architects.

The President's House lot still stretches its full length, from Prince Avenue nearly to Boulevard.

The house is one of the state's best examples of Greek Revival architecture, preservationists say.

Its special features include two outbuildings now used for storage, centuries-old furniture and art as well as little architectural jewels like ornate plaster ceiling molding that looks as new as when the house was built in 1857-58 for prosperous railroad contractor John T. Grant, an 1833 UGA graduate.

"I feel a special responsibility to take care of that place," Adams said.

Amy Kissane, executive director of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, said she'd like to see the house included on one of the foundation's annual tours of historic Athens homes.

"We would love the opportunity to work with the university on that," Kissane said.

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justus4
113
Points
justus4 01/31/10 - 08:56 am
0
0
That place should be turned
Unpublished

That place should be turned into a museum honoring the fomer slaves, who probably did the hard labor and staffed that house. It should be a standing reminder of "never again" will a country be allowed to enslave an entire population and destroy their heritage. And for those UGA presidents who couldn't live there, they'd probably have nightmares from all the atrocities associated with that place and they're being PAID to live there. Wow!

Junket831
0
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Junket831 01/31/10 - 08:57 am
0
0
Let me get this straight,

Let me get this straight, Adams recevies nearly 3/4 of a million dollars in salary, yet gets a housing allowance too. No wonder the State of Georgia is broke. At this point, the following action should take place: Adams should be given a 25% pay cut until the state of Georgia is back in the black. He and other overpaid university administrators need to feel the same pain the rest of the state is feeling. His housing allowance should be cut to zero. He makes enough money off his salary (even after the proposed pay cut) that he can easily afford to pay his own rent or mortgage if he chooses to live off campus. Since he does chose to live off campus then the State should not pay a cent for the renovation of an old mansion. Adams is an adept fundraiser. He can find the money in the non-public sector or the project should wait until he can. The State is broke and this project benefits no one except a small group at UGA brass and their political cronies.

Bantana
2071
Points
Bantana 01/31/10 - 09:22 am
0
0
Justus, you know nothing of

Justus, you know nothing of the history of the President's Mansion.
And..I would assume it's safe to say Junket never attended the University of Georgia. $604,864 is not "nearly three quarters of a million dollars" and the housing allowance was not in addition, but rather a part of the $604,864 annual compensation package. Reading comprehension, spelling, and basic math skills are to be taught in the first three elementary grades. Our state's K-12 education system is disappointing. What are we turning out? Undereducated people that rely on hyperbole, bluster, factual inaccuracies, jealously, race baiting and revisionist history to somehow make themselves feel better while running down others . How could anyone expect to advance a civilization when this is the level of public discourse?

SouthernPride
0
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SouthernPride 01/31/10 - 09:16 am
0
0
Hey justus, slaves built my

Hey justus, slaves built my house in 2008. You think I should turn it into a museum?

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 01/31/10 - 09:56 am
0
0
bantana......well written

bantana......well written post....(.hint..hint justus.)It's a beautiful house and must be maintained.

TheDeerhunter
0
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TheDeerhunter 01/31/10 - 10:00 am
0
0
Let me live there!

Let me live there!

chascush
0
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chascush 01/31/10 - 10:04 am
0
0
justus4, the federal

justus4, the federal government is enslaving many more black with the entitlement programs than our ancestors ever did. If Obamacare passes it will enslave even more. Things will never get better until people like you get the racial chip off your shoulder.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 01/31/10 - 11:48 am
0
0
$365 for a broken flush

$365 for a broken flush handle? I'm in the wrong business!

Jake
34040
Points
Jake 01/31/10 - 12:53 pm
0
0
They should use it as a

They should use it as a fraternity house like the one in Animal House and then maybe the park wouldn't be turned into a pigs sty during home football games.

corgimom
38321
Points
corgimom 01/31/10 - 02:41 pm
0
0
Justus wants another

Justus wants another "monument" to slavery, like the Lucy Laney Craft museum that nobody wants to go to. I'd stay there, I wouldn't have any nightmares. I wonder if Justnuts has nightmares over the Indian atrocities that were committed on the land where his house is?

corgimom
38321
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corgimom 01/31/10 - 02:43 pm
0
0
There is a poster on here

There is a poster on here that is obsessed with slavery and wants to blame everything on that. That's called "lack of personal responsibility". When you give somebody free housing, free food, free education, free health care, and they STILL don't better themselves, it's not because of slavery.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/31/10 - 02:52 pm
0
0
I think justus is an angry

I think justus is an angry white democrat trying to stir up racial problems full time. No one could really think that way anymore.

corgimom
38321
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corgimom 01/31/10 - 05:32 pm
0
0
Chillen, no, you would be

Chillen, no, you would be surprised at the number of people that really do think that way.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 01/31/10 - 07:17 pm
0
0
That stuff is preached in a

That stuff is preached in a lot of the black churches. Remember what Obama listen too for 20 years in the Rev. Wright’s church. NO, NO, not God bless America but GD America.

corgimom
38321
Points
corgimom 01/31/10 - 08:18 pm
0
0
Back in the Columbia project

Back in the Columbia project days, a black man called me a white devil. He thought that was just a terrible thing to call me. I started laughing. He didn't much like that, but I just couldn't take it seriously. Me, a white devil. My sisters started addressing letters to me "Mrs. Corgi W. D. Mom".

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 02/01/10 - 09:10 am
0
0
"$365 to fix a broken toilet

"$365 to fix a broken toilet handle in a guard house", this does qualify as a government run facility!

stayoutofaug
0
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stayoutofaug 02/01/10 - 04:18 pm
0
0
corgimom, there is another

corgimom, there is another poster on here who loves to respond to this "race-baiter" and would rather do this than address the issue at hand. every comment ive ever seen you post is in response to justus. he posts, doesn't come back, and he has your ignorant panties in a bunch because, the truth is, you don't have a response to this type of blatant misuse of funds. get off the net.

Bantana - just because someone lacks eloquence does not mean they can't debate an issue with you. 700,000 is close enough to 75% and that is the amount that is being used from state funds...that's what you're so concerned about. and if that's the issue you choose to pull out of Junket's post to whine about then you're pretty much at a lower level of ability regarding "public discourse".

Fiat_Lux
16420
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/01/10 - 05:05 pm
0
0
Got us an angry one, folks.

Got us an angry one, folks. StayOut thinks he's got a corner on accuracy and proper interpretation of facts. Step back...

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