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Chicago Architect Tapped to Restore State’s Dilapidated Governor’s Mansion

The long-neglected 1855 Springfield landmark could see a $15 million overhaul

Following last year’s work to repair a leaky roof and eliminate rampant mold, Illinois’ run-down Executive Mansion is on track to receive a complete makeover. Yesterday, Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner announced an ambitious $15 million plan to overhaul the Springfield landmark. Designed by John Van Osdel, the mansion is currently a confused mix of original 1855 architecture and more recent additions. It exists in what has been described as "embarrassing" condition and is often said to be representative of the state’s myriad issues.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the privately funded renovation will be in the capable hands of Chicago-based Vinci-Hamp Architects. The firm will oversee the restoration of original architectural details as well as the modernization of the governor’s quarters. A new visitor orientation center and exhibition space showcasing Illinois art is also on tap. Landscape work will remove the property's overgrown trees to make the mansion more visible from the street and addtional steps will be taken to improve the site’s currently poor ADA accessibility.

While detractors of the plan view the renovations as a misplaced priority amidst the state’s political gridlock and budgetary woes, its proponents see it as a necessary step towards rebuilding Illinois’ dignity and improving the experience for the thousands of tourists that visit the mansion each year. The project has already raised $4.5 million, with the Rauners personally pledging $1 million. It is hoped that the work will be completed by the Illinois bicentennial, set to take place in 2018.