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It’s worse than we thought

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014

* Sneed writes about the Executive Mansion and curator Dave Bourland

Back in 2010, Bourland complained that the mansion was “duct tape and bailing wire. There’s been no major fixes since 1970, and it really started to fall apart in 1999.

“Any time something breaks, I have to request money from the Capital Development Board, which has to authorize an emergency repair. Anything that runs — if it does run — needs to be replaced. Plumbing, heating, air conditioning . . . anything mechanical,” Bourland said back then.

◆ Translation: It was also never politic to spend money on the executive residence when the state had bills to pay.

“Transition is always difficult and the mansion still needs a new roof and the elevator is not working, so the new first family will have to climb the tall, winding mansion staircase to get to their private enclave,” Bourland added.

Oy.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

56 Comments
  1. - skeptic - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Ditto for many of our historic sites.


  2. - A guy... - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    The mansion may just be getting the family it needs.


  3. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    Well lets get some donors and fix it. PS its not like Quinn & Blago didnt have rich donors or maybe if some trade union support that could of helped out.


  4. - Just Saying - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    Too bad Blago spent all that money on the heated driveway rather than the inside of the house.


  5. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    Sounds like the Rauner’s will be in plenty good shape! (not that they are not already fit)


  6. - Carl Draper - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    It is not like the executive mansion is the White House, but it is of historic significance and is a great venue for charitable or civic organization receptions as well as public tours.
    It needs repairs and it does look positive that Rauner announced plans to make them happen. I doubt that he knew the extent of the problems, just as citizens have no clear understanding of how bad the fiscal situation is for the budget. I am hoping he can get it the repairs and updates that it needs. And he needs to keep Dave Bourland in place as the one person who does understand its value.


  7. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    ==Well lets get some donors and fix it.==

    It’s a state asset. The state should have been investing money in it over the years. It’s unfortunate that the state has let it get in such disrepair.


  8. - Steve - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    While not sell the mansion and be done with the problem? All Governors should have to find their own place. I’m sure Bruce Rauner can afford somewhere to live in Springfield.


  9. - walker - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    He’s understated it here, so far. It’s more than mechanical systems and roof needing repair. Anyone who has walked around on its bouncing floors and porches, knows it has structural problems.


  10. - Percival - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    If the Rauner family will be living there for a good part of at least four years, I’m confident that a major upgrade is coming.


  11. - dixiechick - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    The restoration of the mansion is a wonderful opportunity for architects, designers and historians, students to come together and truly create a showcase for Illinois. There are plenty of private sources that would like the cache of being involved ala Mrs. Kennedy’s White House restoration and tour.
    This privately funded and publicly beneficial project could serve as a model for other such restorations.


  12. - MrJM - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    “The state should have been investing money in it over the years. It’s unfortunate that the state has let it get in such disrepair.”

    This observation is true for so many of Illinois’ most pressing problems.

    – MrJM


  13. - Mason born - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    This would be a good spot for Bruce to make a charitable Effort on behalf of the state. Although if Walker is correct and there are some serious Structural Deficiencies it may be more than Bruce can afford personally. Then again he has plenty of big hitters on his speed dial.


  14. - Just Me - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    One of my favorite memories is back when I used to work for a Republican official and he convinced Governor George Ryan to let us have the annual Christmas party at the mansion. After a few glasses of wine the Governor came down. He was days away from leaving office, and everyone knew it was months away from being charged with corruption, but he cheerfully led us around the mansion and told us stories about the history of the building. The staff were going insane with all these 20-somethings creating a mess in such a historic building.

    The mansion is the people’s building, and it is unfortunate that due to politics it has been allowed to suffer and fall into disarray. I hope we collectively find some money to fix it up. If there is a private fundraising effort to fix it up I’ll have my checkbook ready.


  15. - State Worker - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    Just like the pension, kick the can down the road. Fix the mansion. It’s a state treasure. Maybe cut down on travel back and forth from Springfield to Chicago, turn in all of the excessive vehicles driven by ever deputy deputy of the deputy directors or cut the salaries of every 23 year old senior public official to pay for repairs.


  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    So charitable of Bruce to raise money to fix up the mansion he just bought. Where was he the last 20 years?


  17. - Norseman - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Don’t a heart attack A Guy, but I concur with your comment.


  18. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    Just an Andy Rooney moment here - Didja ever wonder why Sneed can’t write something that doesn’t require translation?


  19. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    I really wish Governor Quinn had taken the opportunity to do this. It would have built up a great deal of good will. Missed opportunity…


  20. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    It is nice to hear the positive commentary. Please all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  21. - OneMan - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    Get it? Forget it? Natch


  22. - A guy... - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    == Norseman - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Don’t a heart attack A Guy, but I concur with your comment.===

    Heart’s too happy for that today Norse. I even said something nice about you elsewhere on the blog. Mentioned you in the same sentence with S-mom. You should be very pleased just to be in that company! lol.


  23. - Poster - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    It needs a Lincoln Bedroom so those that donate can for free, provided they pay for the staff help during their stay.


  24. - Rollo Tomasi - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    “Transition is always difficult and the mansion still needs a new roof and the elevator is not working, so the new first family will have to climb the tall, winding mansion staircase to get to their private enclave,” Bourland added.

    ******

    Bruce Almighty will just be closer to God or is it the other way around.it the


  25. - skeptic - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    “The restoration of the mansion is a wonderful opportunity for architects, designers and historians, students to come together and truly create a showcase for Illinois” Two words: Copper-cladded doors.


  26. - Under Further Review - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    I know the incumbent governors may have been wary of demanding improvements and repairs for political reasons, but why doesn’t the same thinking apply to the state legislators who were perfectly fine with approving expensive renovations to the Capitol? I guess it is easier to blame one person (governor) than a group (the legislature). Both the Executive Mansion and the Capitol are important public buildings and ought to be maintained.

    To tell the truth, the Thompson Center looks in need of cleaning and repairs too. It is a poorly designed public building in my opinion.


  27. - Finally Out (formerly Ready to Get Out) - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    Wow! Is it even safe to go in now? Sounds just like our state government, wait until everything is in disaster mode, then act when the cost becomes very expensive. State fairgrounds, pension payments, etc.

    Sounds like a perfect high profile project for some corporate charitable involvement. Great PR for them, as long as they don’t expect anything in return!


  28. - RNUG - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    Jim Thompson put together a deal and donors to save and refurbish the Dana-Thomas house, part with State money and part with private money. Rauner should be able to do the same for the Executive Mansion.


  29. - Newsclown - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    What would probably help the mansion long-term after the fix-up, is to give it a funding status independent of political tides. A maintenance fund that becomes an endowment of sorts, and the repairs and upgrades come out of interest earned on the principle, administrated by an independent custodian. Kind of what Madigan was talking about for the Lincoln Presidential, only in a scaled-down fashion. The mansion is a state historic site and a tourism attraction, as well as a (potential) showplace to entertain and impress diplomatic and commercial representatives from all over the world. When there are billion-dollar deals to be made on, say, shipping corn and beans to other countries, it hurts to have the venues for the negotiations or announcements look down-at-heel. The mansion should be a focal point of state pride, truly, a “people’s house”.


  30. - Newsclown - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Agree with RNUG. What would probably help the mansion long-term after the fix-up, is to give it a funding status independent of political tides. A maintenance fund that becomes an endowment of sorts, and the repairs and upgrades come out of interest earned on the principle, administrated by an independent custodian. Kind of what Madigan was talking about for the Lincoln Presidential, only in a scaled-down fashion. The mansion is a state historic site and a tourism attraction, as well as a (potential) showplace to entertain and impress diplomatic and commercial representatives from all over the world. When there are billion-dollar deals to be made on, say, shipping corn and beans to other countries, it hurts to have the venues for the negotiations or announcements look down-at-heel. The mansion should be a focal point of state pride, truly, a “people’s house”.


  31. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    === So charitable of Bruce to raise money to fix up the mansion he just bought. Where was he the last 20 years? ===

    Where have you been @Anon the last 20 years? What leadership role have you taken to rehab the mansion? Rauner is gov-elect now — he says he’s gonna do something to fix a state problem — something he was elected to do — and you criticize him for that? Someone is still very, very bitter over the election.


  32. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    If Rauner wants to pull the private money together to keep it from falling down, salud and thanks. But like anything else in life, it’s the upkeep that will get you.

    I could care less. Governor’s mansions are anachronistic and undemocratic.

    Not everything is supposed to last forever in a dynamic society. If the mansion had been valued by the folks, it never would have gotten to this state of squalor.


  33. - too obvious - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Oh no, one of the Rauners’ 10 mansions won’t be quite top notch. Poor things.

    I’m this/close to never paying attention to Michael Sneed.


  34. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    Here that Mr. Governor-Elect?

    You have an opportunity to take a beloved historical property representing Illinois and show everyone what you can do. Restoring Illinois will be your reelection theme in 2018, and showing how you have done it using the executive mansion as an example will win you that 2018 campaign.

    Film everything. Document every leak, sagging floor, every stain and every bit of duct tape as you found it. Tie it into the condition you found state government. Film the restoration. Tie it all into our state’s return to greatness with you as governor.

    By 2017 you should have enough to brag about. Open the doors during the State Fair and use the Fair and mansion restoration to begin your campaign. Milk it for donor support and political support.

    Importantly, use the mansion to show your commitment to hiring minorities. Fill the reconstruction with diversity. Film the incorporation of Illinois African American craftsmanship, art and talent. Build that bridge you began in South Cook County neighborhoods.

    You will have a powerful symbol of bringing Illinois back. You will have the appreciation of everyone who will see your work on the mansion as a gift. Your family will forever tied to the mansion’s long history. No matter what happens over the next four years, your restoration of the Executive Mansion will leave you with a good legacy.

    We need it. You can do it. It will make you a winner.


  35. - Insideout - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    Amazing, Rauner appears more concerned about where he lives rather fixing the budget? This dope is so green he may prove smoke-able! Why not invite Rauner’s pals to the Mansion and ask them to pay off the state debt?


  36. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Illinois has been blessed/cursed with the largest Governor’s Mansion in the nation. That means that we face the highest maintenance costs.

    It certainly is a valuable asset, for tourism and for state functions. And frankly, it ought to be somewhere close to self-supporting, given that it is so often rented out for private functions.

    I hope the Rauners fix it up and raise the rents.


  37. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    - inside out - I wish we could all be as successful as that dope!!! Give me a break


  38. - Louis G Atsaves - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    Anyone take a serious look at the current condition of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago?


  39. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    Wow… The guy say’s he’s going to live in the people’s house and help pay for some of the costs. And folks complain. Do a bit of research. How much do you think the daily flights by Rod cost? Give Dave the check to fix it right…. The man has kept up that dump by sheer will…. I for one appreciate the Gov elect saying he is going to live there… Leadership by example is something we have lost from our last few Governors.


  40. - Under Further Review - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    It should be remembered that there was a time when the governor was expected to actually reside in Springfield. Many made the mansion into their actual residence while in office. Much of this was under the old state constitution. Later, governors split time between their own homes and the mansion.

    Blagojevich was undeniably the worst. He rarely bothered to spend time in Springfield. The Mansion became an abandoned building during his six years.


  41. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    Well said Walter Mitty


  42. - Anon3 - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    Wordslinger nailed it! We have the ALPLM etc may be its time for the Mansion to be part of our history not our future. There is plenty to see and do of more significance in Springfield.


  43. - Almost the Weekend - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    Sell the mansion at the Du Quion State Fair Grounds, use that money to pay for repairs.


  44. - Macbeth - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:51 pm:

    Okay, I’ll be the dissenting voice here.

    Rauner is full of it. He’s not going to live in this thing. He may try to establish some sort of endowment — some of (legal!) way to use private funds to fix it up — but come on. Dude’s not going to go here — until it’s fixed.

    One of the many “I’ll say anything to get elected” but now that I’m elected let’s “take a close look at this…”


  45. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    If you read about the history of the White House, it has been rebuilt and refurbished several times.

    The biggest rebuild was during the Truman presidency (1948-1952) when the family had to live in the Blair House while the interior was totally rebuilt. Only the outer walls remained intact just like in 1814 when the British burned it. Floors were re-built with concrete and steel beams for joists to handle the heavy weight of furniture and other items.

    In the 1960’s, Jackie Kennedy spearheaded the effort to redecorate the White House with furnishings and wall covers to reflect the early history of the “people’s house.” The White House Historical Association was formed during this time to publicize the history of the building.

    It is probable that the Governor’s Mansion will need something in the way of the White House rebuild of the Truman years rather than a redecorate similar to Mrs. Kennedy. A foundation is needed for its upkeep and to handle donations for the rebuild. Could easily be a public-private venture.


  46. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    ==Rauner is full of it. He’s not going to live in this thing.==

    He’s not even Governor yet. How would you know what he is or isn’t going to do? I wish I was a mind reader like some of you. How about we let things play out?


  47. - FR - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    It would be awesome if Gov. Rauner used his paycheck to support the mansion; he said before that he doesn’t need to collect a paycheck … this would be a great “donation” to the mansion.


  48. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    ==Anyone take a serious look at the current condition of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago?==

    Brought to you by the short-sighted State of Illinois. Where we defer maintenance to “save” money so we can spend more later to fix it.


  49. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    Where will the Rauners live while the mansion is being repaired?


  50. - JC - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    == it may be more than Bruce can afford personally==

    I’m sure Brucey could spare a few million bucks to fix the place


  51. - Chicago Guy - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    I could see the rehab taking four full years.


  52. - Honest Abe - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    The reason it has been neglected because no one stays there. Everyone runs an election saying they will stay in the Mansion until they actually stay one night and then they realize this is not a very nice place. Rauner van will fit right in on the driveway. He might want to bring the van because he might want to stay in it as well. I will say this for person who has been in the mansion working several times over the last 20 plus years it’s a neat place and should be something special.


  53. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    Chicago Guy: Me too, and that’s not snark.


  54. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    We should “pass” on building the proposed Presidential Library and spend our money on our house.

    History will prove it to be “money better spent”!


  55. - Anon - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    (30 ILCS 110/3) (from Ch. 127, par. 168-83)
    Sec. 3. (a) The Governor may impose and collect reasonable fees for the use of the facilities and grounds of the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield and the Hayes Home on the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. All such fees shall be deposited into the Illinois Executive Mansion Trust Fund.
    (b) The Illinois Executive Mansion Trust Fund is created as a separate trust fund outside the State treasury whose funds are not subject to appropriation by the General Assembly, for the purposes of improving, restoring, maintaining, furnishing and operating the Illinois Executive Mansion and the Hayes Home, and for the furnishing of the official offices of the Governor located in the State Capitol in Springfield and the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. The State Treasurer shall be custodian of the fund, ex officio, and shall invest moneys in the fund in the same manner and subject to the same restrictions as moneys in the State treasury and shall pay out the moneys in the fund as directed by the Governor for the purposes specified in this Section and for no other purpose.
    (Source: P.A. 89-376, eff. 8-18-95.)


  56. - A. Nonymous - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    @ Mason - “Although if Walker is correct and there are some serious Structural Deficiencies it may be more than Bruce can afford personally.”

    Rauner makes $50,000,000+ per year.

    He can afford any and all repairs all on his own.

    That said, he does have Ken “Richest man in Illinois, and wants more of a say in government” Griffin on his speed dial.

    Further, as governor, it would behoove him to ’spread the wealth’ and do as he himself and as others have suggested - to involve a variety of donors and engage students (U of I and UIC have phenomenal Architecture Schools) + the trades, historians, etc.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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