A President’s House Fit for a Lady

The+Presidents+house+sits+on+Lake+Street+before+renovations+begin+to+welcome+the+Botzman%27s.

The Presidents house sits on Lake Street before renovations begin to welcome the Botzman’s.

Christa Porasky, Reporter

Renovations are underway on the president’s house as the new president, Dr. Thomas Botzman, prepares to move to the Back Mountain.

The Lake Street house is undergoing a much-needed makeover this summer, with the help of Eric Nelson, Vice President of Finance and Administration.

Nelson is working alongside Botzman and his wife to ensure that Botzman’s smooth move into the presidency includes a smooth move into the new house – and he is seeking the family’s input on the design – including colors and patterns.

“I’ve worked with him and his wife. He’s actually said it’s not his decision, it’s his wife’s,” said Nelson. “So I’ve been dealing with Mrs. Botzman on what she wants, like colors of carpet, colors of paints, colors of appliances and everything.”

Nelson said  Mrs. Botzman has been very involved in the renovations, and he has been working with her to ensure he can meet the family’s needs.

“We want to make it not just the president’s house, but the Botzman’s home.”

The construction is necessary because the aging structure requires restoration.  The entire project is estimated to cost $70,000, Nelson said, adding that the work should take five weeks to complete.

Nelson said it’s also important to provide current President Michael MacDowell and his wife Tina with the opportunity to comfortably move out. Construction crews will wait to begin work until the MacDowells  go into retirement to avoid causing any damage to their current home and belongings.

“They’re not just moving on; they are moving into retirement. We wanted to make that as smooth of a transition as possible.”

Nelson said he learned during previous experiences that redoing a house with occupants inside could end badly.

“In a previous position that I had at another school, we actually did some renovations while the president and his wife were still there, and we had some issues with that and I didn’t want to relive those experiences. So we thought we’d do it in a clean-cut way.”

Nelson said restoration work will include the replacement of a leaky roof as well as new wallpaper, carpets and appliances.

“Of course we are going to replace the carpets, and the appliances in the kitchen are pretty dated,” said Nelson. “We’ll just do a general cleaning of everything.”

The home’s exterior needs less work than the interior, Nelson said.

“Most of the house is pretty maintenance-free, but there are some areas that just have wood planking that need to be continually painted. Unfortunately, they are very high, like at the crown, so we’re going to finish that off so we don’t have to have it painted every five years,” said Nelson.

Crews will also install  central air-conditioning, which is a first for the house.

“I guess at the time the house was built, the climate was a little cooler and they didn’t have to deal with having air conditioning,” he said.

Nelson said the installation presented a safety issue because of the power supply and  breakers, but the central air system will be quiet and efficient.

“I think it is reasonable for the value of the house, and again it hasn’t been touched in 15 years, and I think it’s long overdue.”

Nelson said that he wants to make the Botzman feel as much at home as possible. When he  bought his own house in Dallas, he said he wanted to create an environment that was personalized according to his needs.

“I wanted to make it my own. I’m certainly not walking around on other people’s carpet. When you move into a house, you want to make it your own, not a generic house.”

As Nelson works closely with the Botzman family, he looks forward to the beautiful house and the happiness it will bring.

“I think they’ll be pleased with it,” Nelson said.

The Botzman family will be the fourth presidential family to live in the Lake Street house.

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What is the history of the old house?

“It’s been in the University’s hands for at least 2 presidents prior to Dr. MacDowell. It looked to me like it was probably built in the 1920s. It was a private residence, and the university bought them as they became available, but it probably became the presidents house around the 1990 time frame. Dr. Boatzman will be the fourth president to live in the house. The last time really anything was done to the house was in the late 90s, when just some superficial stuff was done to it, so its got age to it.”

How long are the renovations and why is it taking so long?

“We are being told 5 weeks. We wanted to be conscientious about Dr. MacDowell and Tina MacDowell’s privacy that didn’t want contractors in there doing things because they’re not just moving on, they are moving into retirement. We wanted to make that as smooth of a transition as possible. We decided to not have anything to start until after they left, and that way if things were to get broken or something like that, there wouldn’t be any finger pointing. “

Tell me about a time when something bad like that occurred.

“I, in a previous position, that I had at another school, we actually did some renovation while the president and his wife were still there, and we had some issues with that and I didn’t want to relive those experiences! So we thought we’d do it in a clean-cut way.”

What specific inside renovations are you looking at?

There’s a couple of spots where the roof leaked over the years, so we have to replace the ceilings because its not patched right. And some wall paper that’s been damaged over the years. When you pull the wallpaper off, you don’t know what you’re going to encounter behind the wallpaper so were going to paint the house in its entirety because it hasn’t been touched. Of course we are going to replace the carpets, and the appliances in the kitchen are pretty dated, and we’ll just do a general cleaning of everything.

How about the exterior?

The exteriors in pretty good shape. Most of the house is pretty maintenance free, but there are some areas that just have wood planking that need o be continually painted. Unfortunately, they are very high, like at the crown, so we’re going to finish that off so we don’t have to have it painted every five years.

What about any other important aspects of the house?

The house does not have central air conditioning, which I found very interesting. I guess at the time the house was built, the climate was a little cooler and they didn’t have to deal with having air conditioning. So they used window units, primarily, which aren’t the best thing because you have to have the power supplies, and breakers blow. We are going to be putting in a couple split systems. They are quite, they’re efficient and that will take a little bit of time chasing the walls with the pipes in them. It’ll make it nicer.

Sounds like a lot of work! How are you using your experiences to this project?

Well it is. I’m using my own experience when I bought a small house coming up here, and when you move into a house, you want to make it your own, not a generic house.

What are the specific costs for this project?

I don’t have the cost estimates finalized, but we have a sufficient budget of about $70,000 to do everything, which I think is reasonable for the value of the house, and again it hasn’t been touched in 15 years, and I think its long overdue.

Tell me about a time when you applied your experience to this job.

The young lady that lived in my house prior to me moving in lived there for about three years, and her brother three years before her, and I put $35,000 into it. I wanted to make it my own. I’m certainly not walking around on other people’s carpet.

Will the new president like the new additions?

I’ve has him and his wife. He’s actually said it’s not his decision; it’s his wife’s. So I’ve been dealing with Mrs. Botzman on what she wants, like colors of carpet, colors of paints, colors of appliances and everything. She’s been very involved in that. We want to make it not just the president’s house, but the Botzman’s home. So I think they’ll be pleased with it.