Private funds to cover executive mansion repairs

Illinois’ executive mansion is set to get its first big makeover since the 1970s, and the taxpayers aren’t being asked to pay a dime for it.

The Illinois Executive Mansion Association selected an architect this week for a $15 million renovation project that will shore up the building and its operating systems, and in the process, improve the view for the approximately 10,000 tourists who visit annually.

Max Bever, a spokesman for the organization, said taxpayers are not being asked to pay for repairs to the mansion, which is now the residence of Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife Diana. “This is entirely going to be paid for through private donations,” he said.

So far, nearly a third of the money has been raised.

Bever said the building, at one time maintained through state funding, had fallen into disrepair over the years, which led to the association’s push for a renovation plan and a campaign to finance it. He said no major work had been conducted on the mansion in nearly 50 years.

“The (mansion) board has put together this plan in just the last two years,” he said. “We want it to last well into the 21st century.”

The first phase of the project, replacing the roof, was completed last year at a cost of $500,000.

The next phase includes major exterior and interior work, modernization of the private residence, mechanical system upgrades, updates to landscape and grounds, and security and accessibility enhancements.

Bever said the mansion, constructed in 1855, is the third oldest in the nation and has great architectural value. Beyond that, it has hosted some of the most prominent people in the world, including, of course, Abraham Lincoln.

“The historical aspect is very important, and the people who have been through these doors is just incredible,” he said. “There just hasn’t been an effort to keep it up to date.”

The mansion board picked Vinci Hamp Architects for the next phase of renovations. Bever said the company, which renovated the Capitol building, specializes in historic preservation.

The board also has put out a call for contractor construction proposals.

–Illinois News Network

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