AUGUSTA — Most of the work to restore a large portion of the Blaine House grounds should be completed by the end of the year, state officials said this week.

Barbara Claudel, director of the governor’s residence, said the bulk of the effort to restore the overall look of the property will “probably be done by the first snowfall.” She said there is additional work that cannot be completed until the spring.

A work crew already has lifted up brick pavers to repair problems with the property’s drainage system, and trees that were dead or ailing have been removed.

Claudel said regular and general grounds maintenance including mowing, weeding and mulching had occurred, but the property, at 192 State St., was in need of an overhaul.

“It was time for a renovation because there wasn’t any upkeep to the growth of the plants,” she said. “We want it to look like a museum and a historical place.”

Renovation work was done on the backyard a few years ago, Claudel said, but those changes can’t be seen by people driving by the house.


The Friends of the Blaine House nonprofit group started planning the project more than a year ago because its members were concerned about the overall look of the property. Claudel said the group worked with the house’s director at the time and with state officials to secure funding to improve the grounds.

The group spent $18,000 during the design and planning phase of the project, and an additional $15,000 was provided by the Governor’s Contingency Account. The contract for the project was awarded to Gammon Landscaping & Nurseries for $172,908 in September. Grant Pennoyer, the executive director of the Legislature, said $151,000 was transferred from the State House Preservation and Maintenance Fund to the Blaine House Fund to cover the bulk of that cost. The additional $21,908 came from the governor’s office.

Other work on the property includes planting new flowers, other plants and trees. There will be lilacs, rhododendrons, roses, flowering dogwood and azaleas; and elm, hemlock and sugar maple trees.

“The work will be ongoing because there are some plants and fresh mulch that can’t be done until the spring,” Claudel said.

In addition to the planting work, the irrigation system needed an overhaul in part because many flower beds were out of the reach of the sprinklers. They were replaced, but they can’t be checked until the spring because all the pipes have been drained for the winter.

The house was originally built by retired ship’s captain James Hall in the 1830s, and James Blaine — a U.S. House speaker, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of state and 1884 Republican nominee for president — bought it for his wife as a present in 1862. Although Blaine never served as governor, it was donated to the state to be used as the governor’s residence in 1919. The first governor to live in the house was Carl E. Milliken.


The grounds were designed by the Olmsted Brothers architectural firm, whose partners were the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the American landscape architect known for designing many urban parks, most notably Central Park in New York City.

Blaine House was named a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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