Franklin County

Business role for Old Governor's Mansion

After the Old Governor's Mansion in Frankfort is redecorated in an interior design contest, Kentucky's Economic Development officials will use it as a guest house to help lure new businesses to the state, according to a spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear's office.

"It will be used as a guest house for Economic Development while visitors are here deciding hopefully to bring their businesses to Kentucky, which means more jobs," Jill Midkiff said in an e-mail.

The house will also be used for tours and other meetings, Midkiff said.

The mansion, built in 1798 and renovated in 2004 at a cost of $2.3 million, served as the official residence of Kentucky's lieutenant governor from the 1950s until 2002. It was the official governor's mansion until 1914 and is considered the nation's oldest official executive residence.

Currently, the house is closed except by special appointment because it is so sparsely decorated, Midkiff said in an e-mail.

She said it was too early to determine the cost of the redecoration. No state money will be used in the project. Specially chosen interior and lighting designers, antique dealers, painters and other professionals will be asked to volunteer and donate.

Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear said earlier this week that the 2004 renovation had made the mansion structurally sound, but that it is bare.

Midkiff said state officials hope family members of governors or lieutenant governors who lived in the mansion will donate furniture.

The mansion may also be used for an official event for the World Equestrian Games in 2010, Midkiff said, or for tours for guests to that event.

Twenty five percent of the proceeds from a gala celebration in 2009 will be directed to the mansion, Midkiff said. Other money from the gala will go to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Nicholasville.