UPDATE: Security gates on tap for governor's mansion

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Update: The governor's office contacted IBJ Tuesday night, several hours after this story was first published, with this statement about the gates: "Our security experts tell us that  gates will help prevent unexpected vehicles from entering the residence grounds from either Meridian Street or 46th Street, something which happens multiple times a day and raises security concerns."

For the first time, the state of Indiana plans to install security gates at the driveway entrances to the governor's residence at 46th and Meridian streets.

The Meridian Street Preservation Commission on Aug. 19 unanimously approved a design that calls for wrought-iron gates supported by brick columns, Chairwoman Kathleen Blackham said. (To see a copy of the application and a line-drawing rendering, click here.)

governorsmansion-28-15col.jpgThe brick columns that hold that gates will match materials on the property. (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

The gates, one at each entrance, will be a big change for passersby on traffic-heavy Meridian Street. The unassuming English Tudor-style mansion blends so well with the neighborhood, Blackham said, "If you were from out of town, and you drove through there, you wouldn't think it's the governor's mansion."

Several of Gov. Mike Pence's top staff members, including General Counsel Mark Ahearn, presented their case to the commission, but they didn't go into much detail about what's driving the need for the gates, Blackham said. Although there's no fence or wall surrounding the 6-acre property, Ahearn testified that the gates should solve whatever problem the residence is having with intrusions, Blackham said.

Local activist Clarke Kahlo said he's worried that the governor's office is planning to eventually wall off the property. A member of the governor's staff stated during the commission hearing that there are no present plans to put up a fence or a wall, Kahlo said, but he still worries that the property will become less accessible to the public.

Kahlo said the governor's staff didn't make a strong case there's a security problem, and he said he doesn't see the point of installing gates without a fence. "Almost any Toyota can pop that curb and be on the property in a heartbeat," he said.

Governor's spokeswoman Kara Brooks wasn't available for comment Tuesday morning about the plan for the gates. Last year, the Governor's Residence Commission discussed installing security gates, along with other upgrades to the residence, but Brooks said early this year that those plans were on hold until the money can be raised by the Governor's Public Building Foundation.

The governor's office didn't say how much the new gates might cost or how soon they'll be installed, Blackham said. The Meridian Street Preservation Commission only requires that any work it approves be completed within two years, she said. The governor's office said Tuesday night that "we anticipate starting construction as soon as sufficient private funds are raised."

Created in the 1970s, the preservation commission reviews designs for changes to buildings in the North Meridian Street corridor. The commission, which is made up of gubernatorial appointees and representatives of surrounding neighborhoods, voted 8-0 in favor of issuing a certificate of appropriateness for the gates, said Blackham, who is also a city planner.

The commission tweaked a few elements of the governor's design, Blackham said. There will be no plaques on the brick columns, which will match the brick used in the guardhouse, she said.

Several other Meridian Street houses are shielded by driveway gates and fences, including a previous governor's residence at 4343 Meridian St. The current governor's residence was acquired by the state in 1973.

Unlike former Gov. Mitch Daniels, Pence and his family made the Meridian Street mansion their main residence.


  • Man of the people?
    Why does this governor feel it necessary to wall himself in like this? Have the pesky citizens tried to walk up to you to voice their concerns on some of your policies. Why spend all of this money? This is fiscally responsible. Maybe he needs some Buckingham Palace guards at the entrance with their bear skin hats and red uniforms?
  • Zoning
    This is true in general, but State owned property is exempt from local zoning regulations......
  • Great Idea
    I'm think a gate and a follow up fence are a great idea - as long as we can use them to keep Mr. Pence locked in at home ams not taking steps to further ruin or great state.
  • zoning a corner lot
    I was under the impression that fencing is not allowed on a front yard and that on a corner, both sides are considered "front" yards, therefore can't be fenced without a variance. Also impedes the visibility for drivers at the intersection. Am I understanding this correctly? Might be why a fence was not included in the plans and a request for a variance will have to be made?.
    • SO out of touch
      "Honest to Goodness" it is 20 months later and I continue to be amazed at how out of touch with Hoosier taxpayers this Governor is. They do realize this is not their home, but Indiana's, and they are simply the current guests. Quit spending your time figuring out how to live in a gated community one step at a time and focus on our state's fiscal condition, jobs, education and stuff that we as taxpayers care about
    • Needed
      Judging from the hateful comments posted here by the unhinged left, I'd say this is a wise move.
    • Needed
      With Dence, er Pence as governor he needs protection from the people of Indiana
    • Missing Sidewalk
      I can't say whether the gates are truly necessary, but I can point out that the sidewalk is missing on north side of 46th as it goes past the Governor's Mansion (there is a sidewalk on the Meridian side). The 46th St. sidewalk does exist to the east and west of the mansion property, so that seems like a practical and easily fixable problem for the Governor's Residence Commission to be dealing with.
    • Former Neighbor
      As someone who grew up in the neighborhood, and lived across from the home even before it became the Governor's mansion, I don't have too much of an issue with the security gates and the columns. However, a couple of things come to mind: why was the decision made to not include fencing around the entire area; and, why did the writer feel it necessary to include the fact that Mitch Daniels and his family deigned to reside there? But, relax, Mike: as a result of very astute investments (and gifts), you and your family will be able to afford the multi-million dollar fenced estate in Bridlewood when you leave office!!!
    • Security
      Absolutely they should install a fence along with the gates. The entire 6 acres should be fenced in and have security. But it should be a Hoosier company to install it!
    • What's this For?
      If this is to enhance security, it might work against a vehicle coming up the driveway, but as Mr. Kahlo points out, the yard would still be accessible. The governor's security people know that, so one would think they would have included a wall or, better yet, decorative bollards to prevent a vehicular intrusion away from the driveways. So if it's not security, what is this for?
    • And, Be Careful, Mike...
      Hey, Mike, be careful! You need to ensure that none of those nasty immigrants or gay people are involved in building your columns and your security gates! You wouldn't want to have to deal with undesirables...
    • Gates
      I'm ok with this. As a neighbor the haphazardly placed barriers look amateurish (like our current Governor, I suppose)...and the trooper cars parked in the driveway look like a waste of money.
    • That a boy, Pence!
      I'm a Hossier, a real man of the people.........now get off my lawn!
    • local entities
      As a past member of the Governor's Residence Committee, an interior designer that volunteered countless hours to the re-decoration of the residence in 2006, I find it interesting that the fencing company hat drew the plans for the "much needed" gate is NOT a Hoosier owned company...really?
    • Appointments
      Interesting that 7 of the 9 commission appointments are by the governor. http://meridianstreetfoundation.net/pdfs/List%20of%20Members2014Website.pdf
    • food for thought
      I just learned that there is such thing as Governor's Residence Commission!

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