The 184-year-old Benét House is undergoing much needed repair and renovation. The historic building, which once was home to arsenal commanders and to former college presidents, was last renovated when it served as living quarters for former college president Dr. George Christenberry. Now housing the office of Admissions, the building interior is being renovated to improve the workspace.
“We are putting lipstick on a pig,” said Fred Ricketson, campus architect, jokingly about the painting being done to the building. “A complete restoration of the Benét House, similar to that done at Bellvue Hall, would cost $5 million. We received $250,000 from the state for major renovations and repairs (MRR) of this building.”
According to Ricketson, MMR funding will allow the university to make repairs to the building as well as update the interior design.
The stove and island will be removed from the kitchen, and the cabinets will be given a fresh look. New countertops also will be added. Other improvements include sanding floors and removing the carpet and wallpaper.
“With the Benét House being on the National Historic Registry, it needs to be preserved,” said Ricketson. The renovation is scheduled for completion in late January.
All of the original Augusta Arsenal buildings bear the names of early commandants. The Benét House is named for Col. J. Walker Benét, arsenal commander from 1911through 1919. It is on the National Historic Registry because Col. Benét’s son, Stephen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, lived at the arsenal. Col. Walker’s older son, William Rose Benét, also was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.