THE EXECUTIVE MANSION
AN OLD RAT-TRAP WHICH IS
UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION
examination of the Executive Mansion was made yesterday by the
Commission which was appointed by the General Assembly for the
expenditure of the funds appropriated for the repair and refurnishing of
the structure. The Commission, consisting of Col. N. B. Wiggins, Dr.
George Pasfield and Mr. E. L. Merritt, all of this city, met at the
Leland Hotel and selected Mr. George H. Helmle as architect and
superintendent for the remodeling of the interior arrangements. Dr.
Pasfield was elected President of the Commission and Mr. Merritt was
selected for Secretary.
survey of the mansion, Col. Wiggins said there is not $300 worth of
furniture in the house. He remarked upon the condition of the building
as follows: “If I had been elected Governor of the State of Illinois I
would have said to the Secretary of State: You are custodian of the
public buildings and grounds of the State of Illinois; take possession
of this building and do what you like with it. I will not live in it.
I would prefer to rent a house somewhere in the city and pay rent from
my own pocket. The whole thing ought to be torn down and replaced with
a house which would make a home fit for a state officer to live in.”
Commission found that the roof leaked so badly that the water runs
through to the first floor of the building and that it is necessary to
set pans on the marble mantels in the parlors and the reception rooms to
catch the rain which comes through the roof. The ceilings are so badly
out of repair from the effects of the leaks that half of them will be
taken down. The architectural arrangement of the inside of the building
is so very poor that many of the partition walls will be removed and the
rooms rearranged. Col. Wiggins said that the $13,500 which the
legislature appropriated will not go more than half way towards doing
what should be done to make the Executive Mansion equal in appearance to
the home of wealthy citizens of Springfield in private life. Mr.
Merritt expressed the same views and was even more pronounced in his
condemnation of the appearance of the Mansion. He said that Governor
Fifer should never have gone into the house; that he should have simply
walked from the front to the back door and gone somewhere else to live.
Mr. Merritt thought that $50,000 will not be more than enough to put the
place in the condition it should be in.
opinion of the members of the Commission seemed to be that the Executive
Mansion of the State of Illinois is no better than an old rat-trap and
ought to be torn down; that it is a disgrace to the State and unfit for
the habitation of a person of dignity and respectability. Nearly
everything is antiquated and worn out. Even the gas fixtures are not as
good as may be found in the rear rooms of unpretentious business
buildings in the city of Springfield.
Fifer’s last reception was not well attended because of a heavy fall of
rain and the Mansion was not kept open until the usual late hour of a
public reception. If the people who attended had remained until a late
hour their heads would have been assaulted with the plaster from a
falling ceiling, but it was not sufficiently loosened by the rain until
after the guests departed. It fell after they were all gone.
Governor and his family will vacate about the 20th inst., and
go to Bloomington for the summer. The superintendent of repairs will go
at once to New York City to examine materials for refurnishing and get
prices and the work will begin immediately upon his return. As soon as
the expense is estimated the Commission will proceed to select
furniture, carpets, curtains and other necessities in house furnishing
goods to the extent of the money available for that purpose. As far as
practicable the materials for refurnishing will be procured in the State
Illinois State Journal
- June 5, 1889