Did you know that the Illinois Governor’s Mansion in Springfield is the third-oldest governor’s mansion still in use in the United States? Designed by Chicago architect John M. Van Osdel, the sixteen room Italianate mansion was completed in 1855.
After decades of neglect and lack of upkeep, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion at 410 E. Jackson Street in Springfield had suffered significant interior and exterior deterioration. Roof repairs were a priority to prevent further water damage to the interior.
In May of 2015, the non-profit Illinois Executive Mansion Association launched a campaign to raise $15 million from private donors to restore the 162-year-old mansion. Two years later, the association had reached its goal. The yearlong renovation began.
During the renovation, Governor Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, lived in the Director’s House on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. When asked about living on the fairgrounds, “I have to say, I’ll be happy not to be listening to the speedway anymore,” Diana joked. “I’ll be listening to the trains instead.”
When the renovation is complete, the mansion will be ADA-accessible and have a fully functioning kitchen in the private residence. It will also have a revamped visitor’s experience to showcase the history of Illinois. According to The State Journal-Register posting May 21, 2018, “The mansion will include exhibits highlighting 1893’s World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois life during the Civil War, the children who have lived in the mansion, and an “Art of Illinois” project showcasing 80 pieces of fine and decorative art throughout the building.”
According to The State Journal-Register, the goal is to complete restoration in time for the August 2018 bicentennial of Illinois statehood. “This is one of the most historic, beautiful governor’s mansions anywhere in the United States, and we’re very proud to have it restored to its historic beauty,” Governor Rauner said.
What’s ahead for the mansion? Diana Rauner, who had co-chaired the non-profit Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, said, “Ensuring that the building is well-taken care of is really important. One of the things that we’re so proud of is that this building will now be part of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. It will be well-curated and well-cared for.”
—By Karen Centowski
To see photos taken during the restoration, go to Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/illinoismansion/