NCCU trustees discuss repairs for run-down Chancellor’s House
The N.C. Central University Chancellor’s House, now home to the new, first permanent female Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, is in disrepair.
The windows have deteriorated. There are cracks in the floor. The ventilation is poor. The roof leaks.
The university’s Board of Trustees called a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss major repairs needed for the home.
Located at 18 Appleton Place in Durham, the 6,169-square-foot house, which was built in 1981 and purchased by the UNC system for $550,000 in 1993, has fallen into a state of disrepair, according to Wendell Davis, NCCU vice chancellor for administration and finance.
The house is supposed to be used for university fundraisers, meetings and receptions. The property has been called home by the late Chancellor Julius Chambers, by Chancellor James Ammons, Charlie Nelms and now, Saunders-White.
The State Construction Office as well as NCCU Design and Construction Services have inspected the house. During two separate visits, in 2010 and 2013, the State Construction Office pointed out the windows have deteriorated, the plumbing needs to be upgraded, the master bathroom needs drainage repairs, the ventilation is poor, and the flat roof is draining improperly.
Davis said the university has pinpointed the master and guest bedrooms for the first projects, where there are “structural problems,” to include cracks in the floor and beam deterioration, which pose health and safety issues.
The cost of the entire project, which would also include lighting and intercom repairs and more energy-efficient appliance upgrades, would cost about $200,000.
Fixing the master and guest bedrooms to “prevent any further deterioration of the structure” would be phase one of the project, Davis said. Phase one would cost about $65,000.
The school is expecting to use non-state funds, such as alumni donations, to fix the house.
According to The Herald-Sun archives, repairs were made to the roof in 2001 that totaled $38,000. Other improvements in 2001 included replacing the lighting, fixing dishwashers, minor plumbing adjustments and repairs to the hot tub. Funding for those upgrades came out of the university's building maintenance budget, and Chancellor James Ammons lived there at the time.
Board member Harold Epps asked the trustees by conference call to each donate $1,000 to the project, $10,000 in total, to approve a maximum of $75,000 for Phase One.
Phase Two is expected to include $10,300 of kitchen and wood trim, molding and veneer repairs. Phase Three would cost $51,969 and include replacing the flat roof, which is collecting standing water and leaking into the foyer.
“We are more than half a decade behind responsible repair and maintenance,” Epps said. “If this was our own house, we wouldn’t let it go this far, this long, that much.”
Saunders-White recommended that the board earmark the first phase of funding for the most significant repairs for a house that has aged 30 years.
“In this budget climate, it would be my preference that our investment of these private funds would be allocated only to health and safety issues,” Saunders-White said.
A few of the board members remarked that winter is coming, and the problem would get worse. Any water that freezes could widen any existing cracks in the house, said Timothy McMullen, NCCU director of design and construction.
The board voted unanimously to earmark repairs for the first phase.
Board members next meet Nov. 19 and 20, when they will further discuss the timetable of the project, to include possibly making earlier repairs to the deteriorating roof and setting aside about $100,000 in non-state funds before Christmas.
According to Durham County property tax records, as of Jan. 1, the Chancellor’s House property was valued at $1,099,926.