After nearly seven months of politically charged debate, Texas Historical Commission officials have approved a modified plan for an addition to the burned-out Texas Governor's Mansion a far smaller add-on than one that triggered controversy last fall.
The approved plan is the larger of two that the State Preservation Board had proposed in April to replace the separate, two-story, 3,000-square-foot addition that drew howls of protest from former governors, preservationists and historical officials before it was abruptly shelved in January.
Though the approval of the conceptual plan for the addition's size is not the final step, the remaining approval from state historical officials will probably be just a formality unless new issues arise.
The proposed addition will be built onto the back of the mansion, its west side, where it will not be visible from the front. The controversial addition was to have been on the north side and could have been seen from the front.
The approval marked a victory for Preservation Board officials who have been pushing to expand the footprint of the mansion to meet modern building codes and future space needs, a position now supported by most historical and preservation groups.
And it was a loss for some remaining critics who argued that Texas' most famous house needed no addition at all or wanted to save a large tree that will be cut down for the project.