Kentucky’s first lady Jane Beshear was joined by former first lady Libby Jones and former residents of the Old Governor’s Mansion to announce plans for the revitalization of the historic structure on High Street in downtown Frankfort.
In 2010, Kentucky will become the first venue outside of Europe to host the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which will also be the largest equestrian event ever held in the United States. The world stage has inspired Kentuckians to put their best foot forward for this international audience. History will be made in 2010, but history itself will also be made-over before the audience takes their seats.
“The Old Governor’s Mansion is a treasure of our heritage that has seen more than two centuries of wear and tear. Although it is structurally sound thanks to a recent restoration, its walls and rooms are mostly bare and in need of a makeover,” said first lady Beshear. “I hope you will get excited about this project as visitors from all over the world come to Kentucky for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Let’s show them Kentucky, and an integral part of our history, at its best.”
Through a complex design entry process, talented volunteers from across Kentucky will be invited to compete in 2009 for the opportunity to showcase their designs and redecorate history in the nation’s oldest official executive residence. A week-long celebration culminating in a grand gala will precede the unveiling of the redecorated mansion. Details of specific special events will be announced at a later date.
Unlike a traditional decorators’ showcase, participants in this revitalization will be asked to volunteer their skills and talent. All of the furnishings, window treatments, furniture and accessories used to complete each room will remain in the mansion as donations to the commonwealth. Design specifications will be developed by the event committee to protect the history and integrity of the mansion while still achieving tasteful and functional rooms for continued use. All designers must be certified by the American Society of Interior Designers to be eligible to participate in the project.
The Mansion Celebration concept originated out of the shared concern of Beshear and former first lady Phyllis George for the vacant mansion. Although there are no funds available for a renovation, neither let that deter from their shared mission. They quickly pulled together people they knew who can make things happen, including Margaret Jewett, owner of L.V. Harkness & Company in Lexington and co-vice president of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center Board of Directors, and thus was born the Kentucky Mansion Celebration project. All of this is being done through private or in-kind donations. No public funds will be used in the renovation or the gala celebration.
Partial proceeds from the grand gala will help benefit another of Kentucky’s historic icons, the horse. The Kentucky Equine Humane Center (KyEHC), located in Nicholasville, will use a percentage of the funds to go toward their mission of finding homes for horses in precarious situations.
Since its construction in the late 1700s, the Old Governor’s Mansion has withstood the wear and tear of large families and entertaining of important guests and delegates. The mansion is an integral contribution to Kentucky’s political and social history. The parlor and formal dining room have welcomed dignitaries such as Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Louis Philippe of France, Henry Clay and William Jennings Bryan, to name a few. The mansion was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1971 and celebrated its 200th birthday in 1998. It is reportedly the oldest official residence in use in the United States today.
The Kentucky Executive Mansion Foundation, Inc. (KEMFI) was organized to undertake, support, promote, foster and assist – financially and otherwise – the modification to increase environmental efficiency and sustainability, the restoration, the maintenance, and the preservation of Kentucky’s Executive Mansion, Kentucky’s Old Governor’s Mansion and other public buildings, sites, structures, places and objects of historic significance owned by the commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Kentucky Equine Humane Center plays a lifesaving role for horses that would have dim prospects for a productive future. The KyEHC is a first-of-its-kind facility, established with the specific goal of providing owners with a humane option when they need to give up their horses. Any equine – horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and miniature horses – in a precarious situation is accepted at KyEHC. The vision for KyEHC is to educate the public about responsible equine ownership and become a model for horse shelters in all 50 states.
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