SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — It’s moving day for Gov. Bruce Rauner and first lady Diana Rauner, who are returning to the Illinois Governor’s Mansion after $15 million in renovations on the historic home.
The Rauners led the fundraising campaign to restore the 1855 home, which is one of the nation’s oldest continuously occupied governor’s residences.
“This is one of the most historic, beautiful governor’s mansions anywhere in the United Sates,” Rauner said Monday after carrying in moving boxes. “We are very proud to have it restored to its historic beauty.”
Aside from emergency repairs, the mansion hadn’t undergone any major renovations since the 1970s. The house now has a new roof, is wheelchair-compatible and environmentally friendly, Diana Rauner said.
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There will also be a new visitor’s center as part of the Rauners’ efforts to make the mansion into an “educational opportunity” for visitors. The governor said starting in July, the mansion will be open seven days a week with new exhibits on Illinois’ history and culture. The first exhibit will highlight Illinois artists.
Rauner said the mansion will become “a place for all the people in Illinois to come enjoy and learn about Illinois’ history and everything that’s wonderful here.”
The Rauners, who have multiple homes of their own across the U.S., moved from the executive mansion to the state fair director’s home on the Illinois State Fairgrounds while the project, which began last June, was underway. Private donations, including from the Rauners themselves, funded the renovation efforts. A full list of donors is scheduled to be released.
The first family’s dog, Stella, ran around the courtyard, wagging her tail, howling and greeting reporters. Diana Rauner said Stella will retain her position as “chief greeter at the mansion.”
The Rauners’ dog Pumpkin died in 2016. Diana said she would love a new playmate for Stella, adding she talks about it with her husband “all the time.”
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