Tour the restoration effort at the Illinois governor’s mansion

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Executive Mansion is the biggest governor’s residence in the entire United States. It dates back to 1855 and Fox 2/KPLR11 received a sneak peek inside at the renovations taking place.

John Goetz, owner of RD Lawrence Construction, has been driving past an iconic piece of Illinois history most of his life. When he became the general contractor on the renovation of the governor’s mansion, it was a dream come true and a little bit of a civic duty.

“I think anybody that lives in the community and breathes Springfield, the governor’s mansion is the people’s home,” Goetz said. “It’s the people’s house.”

For the past three years, the 163-year-old governor’s mansion in Springfield, Illinois has been undergoing structural updates and a $15 million renovation.

“We wanted to make this house and the sight ADA compliant,” said Laura Hochlui, project architect with Vinci - Hamp Architects. “We had to bring it up to modern standards so that we could open it up to tour groups.”

First built in 1855, the mansion went through a major remodel in 1900 and again in 1970-72. But time and a leaky roof did their damage to the historic structure. The building was taken down to its bare bones in some spaces.

“There were buckets in several rooms,” said Hochlui. “There was plaster falling off ceilings in multiple rooms. There was plaster falling off walls because it was dripping down through the walls.”

From renovated ballrooms, dining rooms, living quarters and a new courtyard, the executive mansion has received a much-needed facelift.

“This happens to be the largest governor’s mansion in the country at 49,000 square-feet,” said Goetz.

The original home was 18,000 square-feet, with the remaining space added from 1970 to 1972.

The privately-funded remodel is being paid for by donations and scheduled to open its doors to the people of Illinois in July. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is expected to move back into the mansion May 20.