November 25, 2012

New Hampshire governor's house shines

Renovation undertaken by Susan Lynch is completed just as her husband completes his final term.

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. - Ratty. Moldy. Neglected. Gross.

First lady Susan Lynch remembers being struck by the sad condition of New Hampshire's official executive residence the first time she saw it a decade ago. But it wasn't until last week that entering the house moved her to tears.

"I just started to cry because it was so beautiful," she said. "I couldn't even imagine it could turn out this well."

Lynch, a physician, knew the first time she saw the historic home that she wanted to help restore it someday, though she had no idea then that her husband would become governor. Soon after he was elected in 2004, she launched a major fundraising campaign to transform the house into an elegant showcase of the state's history and culture.

The project was completed this month, just as Gov. John Lynch prepares to leave office after four terms. The timing is a bit bittersweet, his wife acknowledges.

"It would've been wonderful to have this home to use," she said. "But even though John and I don't get to use this as governor and first lady, we feel really good about getting this done so the state can have it."

Built in 1835, the two-bedroom, brick Greek Revival house located three miles from the Statehouse was the home of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Styles Bridges from 1946 until his death in 1961. Eight years later, his family gave the home and its contents to the state to serve as the governor's residence, though just one -- Republican Meldrim Thomson -- ever lived there. That was in the 1970s, and parts of the house reflected the era -- from the harvest gold appliances in the kitchen to the shag carpeting in the barn that was turned into a meeting room during his tenure.

The old barn was torn down during the renovation project and replaced with a formal great room, where large paintings of New Hampshire landscapes flank the fireplace. The room's color palette combines deep gold with accents of midnight blue, and antique furniture reupholstered in silk adds to the sophisticated style.

Elsewhere, a porch was converted into a dining room and the kitchen was doubled in size. Curiously -- given that New Hampshire's nickname is "the Granite State" -- the dark green granite countertops came from a Vermont quarry. New Hampshire materials and artists are featured extensively throughout the house.

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