Workers this week wrapped up $1.9 million in exterior repairs to Woodrow Wilson's boyhood home in Columbia - South Carolina's only presidential site
It is the first phase of renovations to the 1870s, Victorian-style home, which has been closed to visitors since 2005.
The Historic Columbia Foundation, which manages the Hampton Street home for Richland County, now hopes to raise an additional $1.5 million to renovate the interior and open the house to visitors by Veterans Day 2011.
"That would be Historic Columbia's 50th Anniversary, so that would be our goal," foundation executive director Robin Waites said.
Waites noted the date also is appropriate because Wilson was responsible for making Veterans Day an official holiday.
In December last year, the National Park Service awarded a $335,000 "Save America's Treasures" grant to repair the house.
That, along with $1.3 million in Richland County hospitality taxes, allowed the foundation to fix the ailing roof, siding, foundation and electrical system.
The house now has a new foundation, a "100-year" cedar plank roof, customized internal guttering, restored windows and newly milled cypress shutters.
The work ensures that the Wilson House is safe from further deterioration, said the contractor, Richard Huss of Huss Inc., a Mount Pleasant firm specializing in historic restoration projects.
"You'll get another 100 years out of it," he said.
The house also sports a historically accurate gray paint job with gold, brown and green trim.
"This is what it looked like when Tommy Wilson lived here," said John Sherrer, Historic Columbia's director of cultural resources, referring to what Wilson's parents called the future president.
The federal grant to the Wilson House's restoration was one of 40 awarded by the park service last year out of 223 applications. Park service officials said at the time that the grant was awarded because of the severity of the threat to the structure.
A similar stabilization is needed for the Brennan Building, former home of the Capitol Cafe and the oldest building on Main Street, Sherrer said. The building, now owned by First Citizens Bank, was built soon after the city burned during the Civil War.
"And like the Wilson House, the Brennan Building is an irreplaceable link to the pivotal Reconstruction Era in Columbia," Sherrer said.
Wilson, the nation's 28th president, was born in Virginia on Dec. 28, 1856.
He lived with his parents and two siblings in Columbia from 1870 to 1874.
The Hampton Street home was built by Wilson's parents in 1872. It was the only house the Wilsons ever owned.
Wilson's father, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, was a Presbyterian minister, and the family usually lived in church-owned housing.
Joseph Wilson was a supply minister at Columbia's First Presbyterian Church and a teacher at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in the nearby Robert Mills House.
The home, built in the style of a Tuscan villa, was used to kick off the city's preservation movement in the late 1920s. The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary bought the house to preserve it as an homage to Wilson, who guided the nation through World War I.
The house is one of six historic homes managed by Historic Columbia. In addition to the $1.5 million to renovate the interior, the foundation would like to raise an additional $200,000 to restore the 1870s-era garden in front and the working orchard and vegetable garden in the rear.
The garden holds magnolias planted by Wilson's mother more than 100 years ago.
The Wilson home would be a centerpiece in Historic Columbia's planned 21-block Garden District. Each of the historic homes in the district would represent a different era in gardening.