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Illinois' first family moves back into the Governor's Mansion

Illinois' first family moves back into the Governor's Mansion. (File photo)

Today was moving day for the first family as Gov. Bruce Rauner and first lady Diana Rauner took up residence at the Illinois Governor’s Mansion following a two-year renovation project. The move fulfills a promise the first couple made to the state three and a half years ago.

“Diana and I pledged to renovate the Mansion at no cost to the taxpayers,” Gov. Rauner said. “Thanks to an incredible effort by the first lady and the Mansion Association, we are on the verge of accomplishing a stunning renovation … on time and on budget with private funding.”

“This project has meant so much to my husband and me because of what it means to the people of Illinois,” first lady Diana Rauner said. “We see the Mansion as the People’s House, a place where visitors can come to glimpse our history, reflect on our accomplishments and creations, and experience Illinois-style hospitality.”

The renovated Governor’s Mansion will re-open for the public this summer. When it does, people will be treated to a remarkable transformation. The completion of the residence section of the Mansion renovation made moving day possible for the Rauners.

The Mansion has retained its gracious architecture, rising out of a refurbished landscape in the heart of Springfield. Inside, the home has been remodeled to show off the history of its famous residents and make room for exhibits of Illinois art and craftsmanship.

The governor was in a reflective mood as the family moved boxes into the house. With his wife on one side and Stella the family dog on the other, he reminisced about the time the first family started the project and moved to their temporary quarters at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

“It was the beginning of our term and the Mansion seemed to us to be a metaphor for the challenges faced by our state,” Gov. Rauner said. “The state hadn’t kept up with basic maintenance: the roof was in bad shape, there was structural damage, and years of neglect had taken its toll. So much so, that the building was quite literally falling down around us.”

“Now look,” he said. “Diana and the team fixed what was broken and the result is a much stronger structure and a much-improved outlook for the future. It is precisely what we are trying to accomplish in state government for the people of Illinois.”

For the first lady, the metaphor involved an inclusive approach to the project. “We tapped into some of Illinois’ top resources in art, architecture and construction,” first lady Diana Rauner said. We’ve had a diverse work force – some union and some non-union – that worked hard and stayed focused. The building is now ADA compliant. And a group of donors gave us a wonderful sample of Illinois generosity.”

The renovations will improve the visitor’s experience for Illinoisans and for tourists from around the world. The upgrades include an all-new visitors’ center and rooms dedicated specifically to historic events, including the Columbian Exposition and former Illinois Governors and first families.

A designated space will feature its first exhibit, Art in Illinois, when the Mansion re-opens. The exhibit brings together over 102 works of art from Illinois-based artists, including 20 privately-owned pieces that will be on public display for the first time.

The reimagined Governor’s Mansion also includes expanded educational opportunities for visitors with new programming and professional docents to give tours seven-days-a-week and assist in planning special events.

“We so appreciate the incredible hard work that everyone has done on this project,” the governor said. “Diana and I are eager for the finishing touches to be completed so we can open the People’s House to the people of Illinois.”

“Two years ago, my team and our partners embarked on the architecture project of a lifetime, and it is so rewarding to see the governor and first lady finally move back home today,” said lead architect Laura Hochuli of Vinci Hamp Architects. “This renovation reflects both the history and future of Illinois, and we know that visitors from around the world will appreciate the newly imagined features reflected in both the architectural and programmatic enhancements.”

The Rauners, joined by their dog Stella, finished moving their belongings into the Governor’s Mansion this morning. The Governor’s Mansion reopens to the public on July 14, 2018.

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