By Katie Weitkamp/Around&About editor
The Old Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort is getting a bit of a face-lift with the help of some Eastern seniors. But the face-lift isn’t going to exude a younger feel. It’s actually going to take the mansion back about two centuries.Eastern’s senior interior design studio class was asked by Joni Sally and John Down, who work for Kentucky’s Division of Historic Properties, for help on the project of refurbishing the public spaces of the Old Governor’s Mansion, a project that started structurally this past summer, but has been planned for about three years.
“We were referred to Marianne Ramsey, who is one of the foremost knowledgeable authorities on historical design,” Sally said.
Ramsey jumped at the chance to do this project with her class. In the past, the senior studio class has not always had a client and Ramsey made up projects that would run along the same lines as the refurbishment of the mansion they are working on this year.
The project will take between eight and 10 weeks. Monday will start the third week of the project. And the class has started working hard.
Already, the class has gone to the Old Governor’s Mansion and Liberty Hall and has more historical trips, such as Farmington and Locus Grove in Louisville, planned. The trips help students see what has been done previously in refurbished buildings as well as generate new ideas of what to do for their project.
Also, the class has plenty of guest speakers. Monday, Clifton Anderson, an antique collector and dealer from Anderson County, came and spoke about specific types of chairs common to Kentucky.
Anderson talked about the structure of many types of chairs commonly found in Kentucky and how to distinguish what time period they may have come from. This type of presentation is useful to the students since they are still forming ideas for the mansion.
“This is my first time (refurbishing), and it’s really interesting to find what was in Kentucky in the past,” said Randy Huff, an interior design and housing major. “A lot of people think that Kentucky was backwards and had dirt floors, but really that isn’t the case. Most of the governors were high society and from Virginia and could get anything they wanted.”
Another obstacle the class has to tackle is a way to make the mansion look authentic, but still be usable. To do this, they will be unable to use authentic antique materials all the time, but must find materials that are similar and will last.
Ramsey expects this project to run as smoothly as ones in the past. The class in prior years has also helped refurbish the Martin House on campus, White Hall, as well as other state historic sights.