Major Expansion Planned for Arkansas Governor's Mansion

FEBRUARY 7, 2005 - Posted at 3:49 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - As the Governor's Mansion stands now, the living quarters for Arkansas' first family include about the same amount of space as a single-wide mobile home.  Architectural plans call for turning the place into a real mansion.

Drawings made in 2003 for the Governor's Mansion Association show the mansion would get an 8,700-square-foot living space.  The new area would come as an addition to the current mansion which serves as a home for Governor Huckabee and his family.

The mansion also includes public entertainment areas.

Huckabee's office and organizers of the mansion expansion won't say how much the work will cost.  They say the documents are among the governor's "working papers" which are exempt from state public disclosure laws.

Little Rock radio station KUAR placed the cost at about $1.5 million.  The station bases the figure on an announcement by the Wal-Mart Foundation that an $80,000 donation completed work on $750,000 worth of fundraising needed to qualify for a matching grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

The mansion was renovated in 2001 and the state recently added a "Great Hall" for social occasions.  The living area was not expanded.

To pay for more improvements, the Mansion Association has held a number of fundraisers, including a luncheon held in conjunction with the opening of the Bill Clinton presidential library.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)