James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor
Joe Hamilton, Acting Secretary
Patty McQuillan, Director of Public Information (919) 733-4926

MARCH 15, 1999

Inmates paint state’s second-oldest home

BATH — One of the state’s oldest remaining homes is getting a much-needed facelift thanks to inmates from Hyde Correctional Institution.

Built in 1751, the Palmer-Marsh House is Bath’s oldest and largest surviving residence from the colonial period. For years, visitors from around the state have been drawn to Bath, the state’s first incorporated town and the stomping ground of the famous pirate Blackbeard, to get a sense of what life was like more than 200 years ago by touring such homes as the Palmer-Marsh House.

Historic Site Assistant H.S. Modlin said labor provided by the inmates is helping the town preserve these homes for future generations to enjoy.

Throughout the month of March, the minimum-custody inmates will be scraping, priming and painting the two-story, gabled-roof house using paint consistent with the house’s original colors. In addition to painting, the inmates will also be re-caulking windows, taking down damaged shutters and replacing old wood.

"With the state’s tight budget right now, the only way we could get the house painted was by using inmate labor," Modlin said. "If we had hired the project out, it would have cost the state $16,000. Now, we are spending $330 for supplies, and the inmates are providing the labor for free. I don’t know what we would have done without them."

With the paint fading and starting to chip away, Modlin said the Palmer-Marsh House was in dire need of a new paint job. The last time the house was painted was back in 1991.

Prior to painting the house, the inmates painted the white picket fence, completely surrounding the Palmer-Marsh House and the house’s outbuildings. Hyde Correctional Sergeant Vernon Lee said the inmates take pride in the work that they provide for the historic town.

"A lot of these guys have never really ever accomplished anything before," he said. "When they look around the town and see all the work they have done, they get a real sense of pride."

The inmates painting the Palmer-Marsh House are part of the Governor’s Community Work Program. Under the program, squads of up to ten minimum-custody inmates work under the supervision of a correctional officer to provide short term, manual labor projects for local government and state agencies.

In 1998 inmates across the state worked more than 1.9 million hours for North Carolina communities, saving the state more than $9.9 million in labor costs. Inmates from Hyde Correctional Institution, alone, worked more than 3,888 hours restoring and maintaining Bath’s historic sites and 3,672 hours performing maintenance and general clean up duties for the Town of Bath during 1998.

"These inmates have been great about helping us do a little bit of everything in Bath," said Eddie Buck with the Town of Bath. "No matter what we ask, they do it, and they work hard and do a good job. Bath is really blessed to have this kind of help from Hyde Correctional Institution."


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