I guess $17 million dollars wasn’t enough to just build a new one.

Mark Alden Branch reports in the Yale Alumni magazine.

President’s house will be a home

President Peter Salovey ’86PhD and his wife Marta Moret ’84MPH are planning to live at 43 Hillhouse, Yale’s official presidential home, making him the first Yale president in 27 years to live there full-time. But first, the house is going to need a little work.

Provost Ben Polak explained in an e-mail to the Yale community on Tuesday that the 142-year-old house will get a $17-million renovation to improve handicapped accessibility and safety, security, and mechanical systems. Polak said the project is a scaled-down version of an earlier renovation plan and will be funded by donations. It will be completed by fall 2014.

These renovations will be nothing, though, compared to the overhaul the building got in the 1930s when Yale first acquired it. The house was built in 1871 by Henry Farnam, a local entrepreneur, in the Victorian Gothic style that was then fashionable on Yale’s Old Campus. In fact, architect Russell Sturgis, who designed the house, also designed Farnam, Lawrance, and Durfee Halls at Yale. (Henry Farnam funded the dorm bearing his name.)

Farnam left the house to Yale in his will to use as a president’s house, but only after his widow and then his son (economics professor Henry Walcott Farnam) had the use of it. By the time the younger Farnam died in 1933 and Yale acquired the house, the pendulum of taste in American architecture had swung to the clean lines of Georgian and early American, and the dark, ominous house looked like no place for a Yale president.