Woodbine made top priority of construction projects

Michelle Herrick

Michelle Herrick

The $450,000 that is being used to renovate Woodbine Cottage came out of a fund normally reserved for repairs on academic buildings, said Executive Vice President Mike Reger.

Money to renovate Woodbine came from the Higher Education Facility Fund (HEFF).

After student tuition is paid at all six of the state universities, 20 percent is put into HEFF for building repairs and maintenance.

Buildings on the list to receive money from this fund often have to wait years before the repairs are completed. But Woodbine –

the home of university presidents since 1903 – was bumped to the top of the list, because it needed immediate repairs, Reger said.

“We’ve always tried to repair Woodbine by using other university funds. We don’t have any other choice,” Reger said. “The siding was rotting, it needed insulation and the windows wouldn’t open.”

The university’s backlog of maintenance and repair jobs would take up to 10 years and over $68 million to complete.In 2004 alone, the estimated cost for all repair projects on campus is $9.2 million, but SDSU only received $1.8 million this year for these repairs.

Since there isn’t funding for all of the repairs, Reger said the university has to move projects up on the list based on need.

“You have to make these adjustments all the time,” he said. “Sometimes if we have a crisis we even have to bump projects off the list.”

The cost to renovate Woodbine Cottage – an 1887 Queen Anne-style home – rose because of historical preservation standards.

Clark Drew Construction Company, which was hired to do the project, has had to have wood custom milled and molded from scratch; in addition, special tools were crafted to work on the wood, said James Drew, Woodbine’s project manager.

This is because the wood on the house has to be matched with its historical equivalent, Drew said.

“Unlike any other project, with a historical project you can’t simply go down to the local lumber yard,” Drew said.

Before any work could be done on the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, both the State Historical Society and the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission had to be consulted.

Joy Sears, a registration specialist with the state office, said the historical society has historical standards that are interpreted on a case-by-case basis, so not every property demands custom -made replacements.

“Some of the stuff is custom, some the property owner can do,

sometimes it just needs to be patched and something similar can be used to blend in,” Sears said.

The extent of the project is determined by how much work needs to be done to the property, Sears said.

“A lot of properties don’t use special cedar,” she said. “It depends on how much needs to be restored – if there is a lot of wood deteriorating.”

The university did try to look for historical grants for the renovation of Woodbine Cottage, but had no luck finding any to cover the costs, Reger said.

“Not anything we could see, but we did look,” Reger said.