Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown plans to move into historic governor’s mansion

Gov. Jerry Brown, who chose an apartment over mansion life when he was governor before, now plans to move into the historic Governor’s Mansion in downtown Sacramento, likely late this year or early next year.

His move will follow the completion of a months-long renovation of the residence, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year, Brown’s office said. The governor and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, will give up their rented loft in downtown Sacramento.

The mansion, purchased by the state in 1903 and now maintained as a state park and museum, has not housed a governor since Ronald Reagan in 1967.

“I am pleased to tell you that the renovation, when completed, will allow this historic residence to be enjoyed by governors and the public for years to come,” California Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer told reporters. “Gov. Brown and Anne Gust Brown will be the first to live in the renovated mansion.”

While the Browns have “committed” to allowing public access to some sections of the house, spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said, the building will serve primarily as a residence.

It will offer plenty of space: seven bathrooms, four of them full; seven fireplaces, only some of which function; and 15 large chambers that could potentially serve as bedrooms. It will host the Brown’s two pet corgis, Sutter and Colusa Lucy.

“It’s very safe for corgis,” Batjer said. “This house has had a lot of children live in it; I’m sure it has had a variety of animals.”

Batjer added that the house “will have the typical security measures there would be for any house that an executive of a state lives in” but declined to go into detail.

Bringing the building up to code required extensive electrical and plumbing work, project manager Roger Gross said. Workers had to balance preserving historical accuracy against equipping the house with environmentally friendly features – including solar panels, low-flow faucets and an electric vehicle charging station – that they hope will earn it an LEED certification.

“It’s enormously difficult” to accommodate both concerns, Gross said. “We have a lot of constraints.”

When Brown signed a budget last year that included $2.5 million for renovations at the mansion, his office said he had “no immediate plans” to move in. That appeared to change this year, however, with an additional $1.6 million appropriated for the project and the renovation growing to include security improvements.

California is one of only a handful of states without a permanent governor’s residence – the lack of which has been a source of consternation for years to Sacramento-based politicians.

The historic mansion housed 13 governors before falling into disrepair. After Ronald and Nancy Reagan moved out of the building in 1967, Reagan supporters built a new mansion in Carmichael. But Reagan left office before he could move in, and his successor, Brown, chose to live in an apartment on N Street instead.

In more recent years, Govs. George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis lived in a ranch home in the Lake Wilhaggin neighborhood east of the city. Arnold Schwarzenegger stayed in a suite at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento.

Funds for the historic mansion’s renovation are from proceeds from the sale of the Carmichael mansion, Brown’s office said.

Brown now splits time between his home in Oakland and an upscale loft in downtown Sacramento.

Brown never lived in the old mansion. His father, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, was elected governor in 1958, after Brown had left home for seminary and college. But he studied for the California bar exam at the mansion, and he has expressed fondness for it in his later years.

When Brown won re-election last year, he held his election night gathering at the historic residence.

The mansion has been closed to the public during the renovation, an extensive project including electrical, plumbing, fire safety and other upgrades.

According to Brown’s Department of Finance, proceeds from the sale of the Carmichael mansion totaled $3.1 million. Interest increased that sum to $4.6 million before the fund was tapped to renovate the historic residence.

Former state senator Deborah Ortiz, a Sacramento Democrat who as a state lawmaker pushed for a permanent home for the governor, called the “long overdue” announcement that a governor would inhabit the mansion “an affirmation of our city.”

“I really think this is what we’ve wanted all along as a Sacramento community,” Ortiz said. “The fact that (Brown) is committed to not only restoring the historical mansion in our urban core but to living in it for the remainder of his term hopefully sends a message to the next governor.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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