SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois governor's mansion is moving into a new phase as officials solicit volunteers to serve as greeters and docents when the mansion reopens this summer following a $15 million renovation.
The Illinois Executive Mansion had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect, the State Journal-Register reported. But with the financial support of the nonprofit Illinois Executive Mansion Association, the "people's house" is almost ready to open once again to the public.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will oversee the mansion. The department said volunteers will play an important role in sharing the educational experience of the mansion with those who visit. Volunteer duties include welcoming guests, providing tourism information and creating a hospitable environment.
The restored mansion includes a visitor's center on the first floor, which will provide space for orientations for large student groups and to show a short informational video before tours.
It also will include exhibits highlighting 1893's World Columbian Exposition, Illinois life during the Civil War, the children who have lived in the mansion and a project showcasing 80 pieces of fine and decorative art throughout the building.
"This is a very valuable part of the educational experience and the civic responsibility experience, which is also very new in terms of the educational offerings for the Executive Mansion," said Justin Blandford, the site superintendent for state historic sites in Springfield.