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Governor’s mansion to reopen July 14

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018

* Press release…

After two years of an extensive privately-funded renovation, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion will reopen to the public on July 14, 2018, Illinois’ First Lady Diana Rauner announced today at the annual Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism.

“Bruce and I made a promise to the people of Illinois to renovate the Governor’s Mansion to restore the pride in this historic building,” said First Lady Diana Rauner, chair of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association. “With an all new visitor experience, expanded accessibility, and updated programming, we know the Governor’s Mansion will be a must-see destination for tourists and Illinois residents to visit again and again.”

The renovation, funded entirely with private dollars, makes the Mansion a usable residence for Illinois Governors. When it reopens this summer, the Mansion will also offer visitors a completely reimagined experience. It has a new look that is both stately and richly inviting in keeping with the Midwest hospitality of Illinois people.

The Mansion’s new mission is focused on history education and appreciation and that is reflected in the newly renovated space. Visitors will be able to gather and learn from period art and exhibits featuring the 1893 Columbian Exposition. There is space to showcase Illinois fine and decorative arts. There a visitor’s center and trained docents will lead tours 7 days a week. For the first time, the Mansion is ADA accessible.

“Our work to renovate the mansion focuses on so much more than just an updated façade and interior design,” said John Bryan, Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association board member. “I am very pleased to be part of a project that highlights the rich history of Illinois and brings art by local artists to the forefront of our state’s capitol.”

The Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association received a grant from the Terra Foundation of American Art to support the inaugural art exhibit, ‘Art in Illinois.’ The exhibition brings together fine and decorative art from Illinois artists and features 102 works from mid-nineteenth century to present day. Twenty of the pieces have never been seen before and are on loan from private collections. ‘Art in Illinois’ will run through January 2019.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Sugar Corn - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 9:53 am:

    ==both stately and richly inviting … rich history==

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Rome’s been burning.

    Congratulations on the grand upgrades. (Gag.)

  2. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 9:57 am:

    The Rauners deserve special praise for taking on this important project. I am thankful that they saved and restored a valued piece of Illinois history and a major symbol of Springfield.

  3. - Shemp - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 9:59 am:

    Credit where credit is due.

  4. - Border Bound - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 9:59 am:

    JB’s office called…. he wants to know if it’ll have toilets.

  5. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:01 am:

    This was a long time coming. I’m glad the Governor and his wife took the reigns and pushed this project forward. The Governor’s mansion was an embarrassment and served as another ugly reminder of the extreme state of disrepair that many of the state’s capital assets are in. No matter what you think of the Governor this was a good thing. He deserves credit in this case.

  6. - Colin O'Scopy - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:03 am:

    There really is a right way to do the right thing. And fixin’ the mansion was the right thing to do.

  7. - Montrose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:04 am:

    This is a good thing. For me, it is about having pride in our state and who we are. That is why I thought the money spent on restoring the capitol was well spent and why I think this money is well spent as well.

    I don’t want this restoration to send the message that you only do work like this with private dollars. I think public investment in public institutions is a good idea, but the fact that they made this work a priority and saw it through is something to applaud today.

  8. - Steve Rogers - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:05 am:

    Whatever you think politically about Rauner, I do have to give him great credit for taking this project on and succeeding at accomplishing it. This was not done with state money, and Rauner himself fronted much of the funds. So, kudos to Rauner. I can’t wait to see the renovated mansion.

  9. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:06 am:

    Half-hearted pat on the back to the Rauners for the renovation. (The renovation would’ve been done by any gov., but the rich Rauners helped facilitate private funding.) The mansion is a part of our Illinois history and it’s good to not only fix it, but make it more available to the public. Having spent many post-session parties there, a few Greek events, business meetings and a wedding reception, I’m looking forward to see the changes.

  10. - A guy - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:14 am:

    I do love John Bryan.

  11. - Sugar Corn - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:17 am:

    Yeah, it will be magnificent.

    But the idea that it was done without public money isn’t true.

    Plenty of state employee work went into the project.

    The credit Rauners get for this is just a bit over the top, especially among springfield insiders and elites. God bless all of them.

  12. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    @ Norseman

    The renovation would have been done by any Gov? Really? No Governor took the time and effort to live there in over a decade before Rauner took office. So no, no other Governor would have done that.

  13. - W.S. Wolcott - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:32 am:

    Today Governor, you get an approving nod of the head instead of the usual disapproving wag of the finger. First time in a long time. Credit where credit is due.

  14. - Glengarry - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    With or without Legionnaires.

  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:54 am:


    Yet after three years of Legionairres deaths and illnesses in Quincy, Rauner continues to stonewall the GA and public and just recently appointed a “task force” to tell him what to do will that state asset.

    Priorities and executive decisions.

  16. - Practical Politics - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:58 am:

    Disagree with Norseman. Any governor would not have done it. Blagojevich avoided it altogether. “Populist” Pat Quinn ignored making repairs at the Mansion including routine maintenance. It is peculiar to try to follow how this penny-pinching was supposed to endear him to the voters. The roof was leaking, the elevator was shaky and mold was in the building. Credit Rauner for a change (pretty rare to say that aloud). Now, fix the State Fairgrounds.

  17. - Steve Rogers - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:58 am:

    Sugar Corn: then who should get credit? Blagojevich? Henry Horner? Joel Matteson?

    This is something we should be proud of. This isn’t just a governor’s mansion, it’s a historic site. What’s the alternative to using private money to fix it up? Using state money to tear it down, so Springfield can have another surface parking lot?

  18. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    The Rauners have a history of creating their own notoriety- look what I donated. Yes, this was a good project, but it was designed from the start to be a showcase for large donors, not for the public in general. It would be interesting to see exactly how many small donors there were in comparison to much larger donors. Just think what a campaign like this could have done to get kids involved in the restoration, rather than a focus on cocktail parties and dinners-

    But, what struck me the most was the promotion of ‘Art in Illinois’ that will run through January 2019 at the Mansion. This after what was done as a clear hostage taking in 2015. The State had to choose, it was forced to choose, between museums and art galleries across the state in 2015.

    Jul 13, 2015 Responses to closures of the State Museums and Art Galleries

    July 18, 2016

    “I don’t believe that the state needs to choose between education and human services and art and history,” said Diana Rauner, who chairs the nonprofit association that supports the mansion. “We need to do both.”

    April 19, 2017

    “All funds raised over the major restoration $15 million goal will go to the Illinois Executive Mansion Association, which will continue to fulfill its mission, and ensure that the Executive Mansion never falls into disrepair again.”

    Association spokesman Max Bever said in an email that a donor list will be released at the end of the campaign.
    This, along with detailed records and financials, should be released to the public openly, and not through FOIAs, so the People of Illinois can actually see what was done to their Governor’s Mansion.
    Example of how records had to be obtained-

    No current 990s are found via Google, no year-end reports on any of the various websites the Mansion Restoration has, no lists of donors. Now that it will be opening, how about spreading a little sunshine???
    (end rant)

  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    We are not French, July 14th?

    Why not July 4th?

  20. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    Don’t like Rauner don’t like what he did to my party. However this is classy and it got done on his watch with effort from him so good for him. I read somewhere that Governors own what happens so let him own this

  21. - Moe Berg - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    Bastille Day was an inspired choice for the Let Them Eat Cake (re-)inhabitants of the governor’s mansion.

  22. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:00 pm:

    When the Mansion is completed, it will look impressive heading South on 5th Street with a wide open view.

    Well done!

  23. - Albany Park Patriot - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    What a joyous occasion.

  24. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:10 pm:

    Sure this is positive. And good for the state. But considering the immeasurable damage the Rauners have done to the state during the last 3 years, it’s difficult to give them a big pat on the back for this.

    I’m big on priorities. While this is good, it should not have been one of the main priorities of this administration. Is there a plan yet for the vets living at Quincy?

    One could make the argument that the Rauners merely got their rich friends to donate to fix up their new mansion. I mean look at how they have barely raised any funds with their private association for the fair grounds. Priorities.

    I do find it funny that MK Pritzker is on the Mansion Association Board. A cynic would think that was just Diana asking JB and MK to write her another check. But I am chalking it up to MK’s long-range planning skills.

  25. - Wading in... - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:34 pm:

    Ironic that the governor “took charge” when it was (effectually) his residence being repaired, while letting the Quincy veteran’s home saga drag on and on. Don’t be distracted by the shiny object. This governor has been a disaster for our State. A pat on the back? How about a shove out the door?

  26. - South Sider - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:56 pm:

    @Border Bound 9:59am: JB called back; he wants to be sure it’s Legionella-free.

  27. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 3:11 pm:

    I’m as happy as anyone that this project was started and completed, the RaunerS should be applauded as should the donors and works and all involved.

    That said…

    The imagery of the Mansion, that porch and the business Rauner did on it with a blind trust…

    … and another Home that seemingly can’t get healthy water to veterans… the Mansion project’s completion is also highlighting all that Rauner failed to do with the Quincy Home too, although to be fair, it wasn’t a parallel thought until the story broke about what happened in Quincy that this comparison became apt.

    I’m as thrilled as the next person… but the sad comparisons are easy to note while being thrilled too.

  28. - Not a Billionaire - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 6:54 pm:

    There is going to be some great decorative arts. The best ever ceramics are made here.

  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:18 pm:

    Nice to see the usual suspects continue to ignore the irreparable damage done over decades by Edgar, Ryan, Thomson, Madigan, Jones, Blags….

  30. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:50 pm:

    === Nice to see the usual suspects continue to ignore the irreparable damage done over decades by Edgar, Ryan, Thomson, Madigan, Jones, Blags…. ===

    In fairness, Edgar didn’t allow drinking at his after session parties.

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