Rauner getting a fixer-upper: governor’s mansion

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Mansion expansion?

Dave Bourland, the Lord of the Manor, is waiting.

Curator and director of the 159-year-old governor’s mansion in Springfield, Bourland is eager to meet its next occupant — Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, who plans to renovate the historic home with private funds.

“I’m looking forward to working with him, but so far I’ve heard nothing,” said Bourland, who has worked for five governors since he was hired in 1977 by Republican Gov. Jim Thompson — a Lincoln memorabilia collector who had a field day collecting antiques for the executive residence, which was built in 1855. It’s the third-oldest governor’s digs in the nation.

Since then, the Georgian mansion was modified with a Victorian facade. It has pretty much gone to pot because of a lack of funds to fix up the place.

Back in 2010, Bourland complained that the mansion was “duct tape and bailing wire. There’s been no major fixes since 1970, and it really started to fall apart in 1999. 

“Any time something breaks, I have to request money from the Capital Development Board, which has to authorize an emergency repair. Anything that runs — if it does run — needs to be replaced. Plumbing, heating, air conditioning . . . anything mechanical,” Bourland said back then.

◆ Translation: It was also never politic to spend money on the executive residence when the state had bills to pay.

“Transition is always difficult and the mansion still needs a new roof and the elevator is not working, so the new first family will have to climb the tall, winding mansion staircase to get to their private enclave,” Bourland added.

Rauner, who toured the ancient pile last week, has said he’ll use private funds to renovate the historic home, which has a history of intermittent occupancy by the past five governors.

“Gov. George Ryan and his wife, Lura Lynn, moved in full time,” Bourland said. “Ryan, who had a large family and lots of grandkids, hoped to have a swimming pool installed. Every governor would have loved to have had one, but no governor followed up on it.”

Athough it’s still unclear whether Rauner means to spend his own money fixing up the mansion, it may require legislation to do so because it’s owned by the state, a source tells Sneed.

Bourland’s paycheck comes from the Illinois Mansion Association, an organization chaired by Thompson and created during the tenure of Gov. Richard Ogilvie.

Ironically, Sneed is told Rauner is not into old stuff. He likes modern and streamlined. The transition should be interesting.


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