From Christmas tours to North Carolina basketball visits, the North Carolina governor's mansion serves as more than the chief executive's home. But with mold invading the 114-year-old Queen Anne style mansion for the second time in four years, work crews will soon move in, while everyone else moves out.
"We tried to patch it up -- and mold, as it is known to do, will grow back -- and it grew back," said Secretary of Administration Gwynn Swinson, who was appointed by the governor.
So much mold grew back, Swinson said, that she had to declare a state of emergency in the mansion. Swinson also declared a state of emergency when toxic mold turned up at two North Carolina Central dorms in 2003. Repairs there cost about $9 million.
Swinson told Easley that he needed to clear out for health reasons.
Now, Easley, who was reluctant to move from his Raleigh home to the governor's mansion in 2001, is moving.
"He's not overjoyed about it," Swinson said.
The emergency declaration means the state can bypass the budget and bidding process by dipping into North Carolina's emergency fund to pay for repairs. But with spores growing throughout the air-conditioning system, this is a bigger and more expensive problem than many people thought.
Renovating the governor's moldy mansion will likely take millions of dollars and months because repairing a historic building gets complicated and crews will have to rip out the entire air-conditioning system, including the ductwork that runs through the 35,000 square-foot home.
"It will be a surprise if it were not substantially expensive and costly," Swinson said.
Contractors will not know the full extent of damage until Easley and his family leave. The governor's staff is now trying to finalize a secure alternate home where the first couple can stay.