Gov. David Paterson is planning to stay in the Executive Mansion on Albany’s Eagle Street when he is in the area, spokesmen for the governor said Thursday.
“He’s going to be a resident of the mansion,” said Paterson Press Secretary Errol Cockfield, but the governor and his wife, Michelle, are not planning at this time to sell their house in Guilderland.
Paterson’s primary residence will remain in New York City, where his 14-year-old son Alex goes to school and his wife works. Stepdaughter Ashley Dennis attends Ithaca College.
Paterson used to be a state senator representing Harlem and the Upper West Side.
Paterson spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said the effort started by Silda Spitzer, wife of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, to make the mansion a “green” building would continue. That project sought to reduce energy use and make other environmental improvements.
Givner said the Spitzer initiative to use organic and locally grown food at the mansion would continue under the direction of chef Noah Sheetz.
Questions have been raised in recent days about Paterson using state funds to stay in Albany hotel rooms on 13 occasions since he became lieutenant governor in January 2007. Cockfield said Paterson would not be staying in Albany hotels as governor because of the mansion’s proximity to his Capitol office.
Neither Spitzer nor his predecessor, George Pataki, used the Executive Mansion as their primary residence. The last governor to do so was Mario Cuomo. Pataki and Spitzer were rarely seen in Albany during the second half of the year, when the Legislature is not normally in session. Even when it was in session, they spent only a couple of days a week there.
The first governor to use the mansion, Samuel Tilden, moved there in 1875. The three-story building was built for a banker in 1837. It is located south of Empire State Plaza, near the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Assemblyman Jack McEneny, D-Albany, a historian of the city, said former Govs. Cuomo and Al Smith went to Sunday Mass at that cathedral, and were very much part of the life of the neighborhood and the city. Cuomo also used to go to early morning Mass at St. Mary’s on Lodge Street, McEneny said, and you would see his light on in the mansion in the early hours of the morning as he worked on his diary. Cuomo’s son Chris dated a girl from the neighborhood, the assemblyman said.
The Spitzers held a get-to-know-you picnic for their neighbors last year, with 82-year-old Albany bluesman Ernie Williams providing the entertainment.
McEneny said his mother, who lived in the neighborhood, attended picnics put on by Gov. Smith, who also kept a zoo on the grounds. A bear cub escaped from it and had to be rounded up by police, he said.
McEneny said he hopes Paterson will bring back some of the life to the mansion that it has lacked in recent years.
Govs. Smith, Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey sent their children to local schools, he said. The wife of Gov. Herbert Lehman was head of the local Red Cross.
Longtime Albany Mayor Erastus Corning joked that the only Republican governor he was sorry to see defeated was Nathan Miller, McEneny said. That was because Miller had three attractive teen-age daughters who lived at the mansion, McEneny said.
Smith, a Democrat, defeated Miller in 1922, after losing to him in 1920.
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