Andrea Conte speaks to Woman’s Club

Posted By | May 31, 2006 12:00 am

Missy Jones
Andrea Conte traveled to Sparta to address the GFWC Sparta Woman’s Club, and she spoke about renovations and reconstruction to the Tennessee Governors mansion that are currently underway.
A private family originally built the mansion in 1931. The state purchased the home in 1949, and it became the third governor’s residence for the State of Tennessee.
The estate is situated on 10 acres and boasts 16 rooms and 9 bathrooms.
The first floor of the mansion is open to the public, and the second floor is private living quarters.
Since becoming the governor’s mansion, nine Tennessee governors and their families have lived there.
The first families have done extensive entertaining, and have hosted many important guest including Billy Graham, Elvis Presley, President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, President and Mrs. Bill Clinton, and many other politicians and royalty from around the world.
Conte spearheaded the reconstruction is the project is estimated to take about 19 months, and consist of four phases.
Conte assured the crowd private donations and fundraisers were supplying all money for the renovation project.
“The goal is to restore the architectural features of the executive residence and provide contemporary updates while preserving the historical integrity of the house and property,” said Conte
Phase 1 encompasses the residence and is estimated to cost $5.9 million.
“The roof has always leaked,” said Conte. “It leaked on the Alexanders, the McWherters and the Sundquists.”
The slate roof was recently replaced at a cost of $550,000.00.
The Tennessee Arts Commission created a sculpture of a figure holding a bird and covered it with the original slate that was removed from the home.
The slate was broken into small pieces to give the sculpture a Mosaic look.
In addition to the roof, a new geothermal mechanical system will be installed.
The new system is designed to help save on utility bills.
The home still has the original wiring, which is undersized for the home’s current needs.
The house will also be brought up to standard to comply with American’s with Disabilities Act, providing ramps and an elevator.
Because of the age of the home, there are areas with lead paint that needs to be removed, and all the windows in the home are being updated.
The second phase centers on enlarging and renovating the conservatory and will cost about $3.3 million.
“Currently we cannot accommodate large crowds, if we have more than 22 guest we have to put a tent in the back yard,” said Conte.
The renovated conservatory will accommodate 160 guests comfortably.
Phase 3 focuses on the carriage house, and the upgrades will cost $664,000.
The plan is to turn it into a safe guesthouse for visiting dignitaries.
Phase four will consist of upgrades to the maintenance building and will cost around $394,000.
“We will not undertake any work we can’t pay for,” said Conte.
When possible, Tennessee builders and contractors were used for the renovations.
During the groundbreaking ceremony children and grandchildren of the workers decorated shovels and turned the dirt.
“The children are the future, and the preservation will ensure that they and all Tennesseans can take pride in the home for generations to come,” said Conte.
“This is living history.”
After the program, Conte dedicated a plaque to the John White home in honor of wife Martha White for her service to White County.

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