After four years' and $25 million worth of restorations following an arson attack, the 156-year-old Texas governor's mansion is ready for its residents again.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his wife Anita are preparing to move back in to the mansion, and Anita Perry says she is really looking forward to going home. "When I'm back in the Mansion it's like we never left. It's really a surreal feeling."
The historic mansion has served as the official home for Texas governors since 1856, including President George W. Bush and his wife Laura. In June 2008, the residence was heavily damaged by an arsonist, who was never found.
Luckily, the house was undergoing renovations at the time, so the Perrys had already moved, and the historical furnishings, art work, and valuables had been put in storage.
Although the artifacts were safe, much of the home was destroyed beyond repair by either the fire or water damage: including the front entryway, the entire porch system, floors and cabinetry
According to the First Lady, "everything needed restoration, literally every inch of the historic house, but we had good original materials to work with."
There are critics who argue the $21.5 million Texas lawmakers approved for the project could have been better spent elsewhere. But Mrs. Perry also led a private fundraising drive that raised more than $3.5 million from thousands of Texans who supported the project.
The historical artifacts were returned to the mansion last month. The restoration was officially completed this week. And now, the Perry's are preparing to move back in.
Anita Perry says she is incredibly humbled and honored to live in the historic home. Each Governor leaves something that symbolizes his or her time in office.
Governor Perry's favorite part of the Mansion is the upstairs front porch. But his wife says it's hard for her to pick just one thing. One of her favorite things just happens to lie in one of her favorite rooms: the Governor's Memento Collection which is kept in the Conservatory. The memento collection was started in the 1960s by Texas First Lady Jean Daniel.
The Perry's children are grown and no longer live at home. But anyone who has spent time with the First family knows how fond they are of their dogs. Mrs. Perry says it will be fun to see the First Dog Lucy Perry show her cousin Rory around the grounds.
Mrs. Perry has already started unpacking boxes in the family's private space on the second floor. But as you can expect, the First Lady says she doesn't enjoy moving.