North Dakota

You Can Live in a Governor's Mansion. You'll Just Need to Move it

Lawmakers have been trying to replace it for years, saying in part that it doesn't dazzle visiting dignitaries and has security issues

If you want to live in a governor's mansion without being elected, North Dakota has a deal for you. With a catch.

The state wants to preserve the 10,000-square-foot home that has served North Dakota's first families for 57 years, while making way for a larger $5 million mansion. But that means the sprawling house needs to be moved. No later than September.

Unpretentious and sturdy, the prairie-style brick Governor's Residence has stood since 1960 as a metaphor for the state. Lawmakers have been attempting to replace the home for years, saying it doesn't dazzle visiting dignitaries, has security issues, is not handicapped-accessible and likely contains lead paint, mold and asbestos. And the roof leaks.

Still, Capitol Facilities Manager John Boyle said at least two people have expressed interest in moving the home, a local physician and an "elected state official" he wouldn't name. Proposals for the project will be taken through Aug. 2. If the home isn't moved by the end of September, it will be demolished, he said.

"It's got to be the right person and the right situation," Boyle said.

A home that size and old could cost at least $250,000 to move, said local house mover John Schmidt, who's business has been around for four generations. He also noted that moving the home, in the heart of Bismarck, could be a logistical nightmare in part because of so many trees in the area.

"A structure like that, you're talking blocks, not miles," Schmidt said.

The new 13,500-square-foot mansion should be completed by Thanksgiving. Built of limestone, granite and brick, it's intended to last 100 years. Much of furniture will come from the old home, as will massive entrance doors. Anything unused will go the state museum or be held in state surplus, Boyle said.

The new home will be the third official residence built for North Dakota's governors. The original was built in 1884 and still stands a few blocks south of the Capitol.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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