Farmington looks for Warner Mansion proposals

The City of Farmington last month began looking for a firm willing to explore the Governor Warner Mansion’s future.

The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) invites respondents who can:

  • Complete a study of the highest and best public purpose uses of the Governor Warner Mansion
  • Conduct a public survey of the recommended uses
  • Create a plan based on the results of the study, survey, and review by city council and staff

City manager David Murphy said officials have talked about the study for a few years. The resignation of director Kim Shay moved it forward.

Governor Warner Mansion
Summer porch parties, which raise funds for the Governor Warner Mansion, were canceled this year due to COVID-19. 

“We want to know what the community thinks,” Murphy said. “Do people even know about it?”

Built by Farmington pioneer P.D. Warner in 1867, the Victorian Italianate structure was later home to his son, Michigan Governor Fred M. Warner.

Family members donated the property more than 40 years ago for “public use”. Within that framework, the RFQ notes, “the City is open to all options and would like long-range opportunities considered.”

Ghost Night at the Warner Mansion
The late Fred Warner talks about his own death during a 2017 Ghost Night at the Mansion. 

The Mansion now serves as a house museum, with exhibits that showcase Victorian life and share family history. A 501(c)3, Friends of the Governor Warner Mansion, operates all events and funds a part-time director.

Fundraisers and rentals, most canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have not covered costs. The city budgets about $45,000 annually for operations and maintenance. Former State Rep. Christine Greig last year secured an $85,000 grant for Mansion repairs.

A complete survey of capital needs is underway.

Initial response to the RFQ was slow, Murphy said, but more firms have shown an interest. He has adjusted deadlines, and qualification statements are now due February 26.

 

 

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