April 21 will be a special day for Springfield, as the local community will play host to numerous guests, including Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, for a sneak peek at the documentary, “Kentucky’s Governor’s Mansion: A Century of Reflection.”
The film will air on KET in May, but Springfield will get an early look, thanks in large part to being the hometown of Michael Breeding, who produced and directed the documentary.
Councilwoman Lisa Haydon was among the city officials who made a push for the Springfield showing, and said that the event is a good idea for the community for a variety of reasons.
“I just thought why not have a premiere in Springfield and invite the governor and first lady. It’s an opportunity to give back to our state and it will be a little bit of a fundraiser,” she said. “It’s all very personal to us with Michael Breeding being from Springfield and producing this.”
She also said it is an opportunity to recognize Breeding, who has worked on projects involving his hometown in the past and will have at least 11 shows airing on KET this year, as the first winner of a new local award.
“We’re also going to honor Michael Breeding as our first hometown hero,” Haydon said. “The tourism committee has talked about some way to honor our citizens who have given back to Springfield and the community and have been successful. We thought this was a great chance to start that annual ‘Hometown Heroes’ award.”
Breeding said he has been blown away by Springfield’s push to host the event and is looking forward to sharing the experience with Washington County.
“I really think I’m one of the luckiest guys to have such a great hometown as Springfield,” he said. “I’m really so overwhelmed by all that they’re doing to make this event so special.”
The premiere will be held at St. Catharine College’s Pettus Auditorium in the Richard S. Hamilton Health and Sciences building, and local officials are hoping that past governors will be in attendance, including former St. Catharine President Martha Layne Collins.
The documentary focuses on the story of the governor’s mansion, including its birth in 1914 and rebirth in the 1980s. Breeding pointed out that many people may not realize the kind of shape the mansion was in at one point, as the state fire marshal condemned the property when Gov. John Y. Brown, Jr. took office in 1979. In its first 65 years of existence no renovations were made to the mansion until Brown helped raise $3 million for its restoration. Breeding said the needs of the facility have been ignored in the past by the public and legislators from whichever party was not occupying the governor’s seat at the time. His documentary helps shine light on its historical significance.
“It shares with the public the need to support the mansion, whether those funds be from private funds or from state funds,” he said. “The mansion needs to be kept up to date at all times.”
“For us to have one that’s 100 years old, I think that’s pretty important,” Haydon added. “I hope this actually encourages people to go visit Frankfort and visit the mansion.”
The current first lady is among those making the biggest push to keep an eye on the mansion’s status at all times, as to avoid costly mass renovations in the future. Those efforts have paid off in recent years, with Kentucky remaining among a dwindling number of states to have a functioning governor’s mansion. Breeding said Kentuckians should be even prouder of the fact that it stands out against the crowd with all of the work that has been done in recent years.
“(The film) is really a great documentation of how we in Kentucky have one of the best governor’s mansions in the nation,” he said. “That’s really the truth.”
“Kentucky’s Governor’s Mansion: A Century of Reflection” breaks down the history of the mansion, while illustrating the lifestyles, attire and customs of Kentucky’s political elite at the time it was built. Living former governors and first ladies were also interviewed for the documentary to provide a personal view from those who have called the mansion home.
The Monday, April 21 premiere at St. Catharine College will start with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed with a screening of the documentary at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase from Springfield City Hall.
The opening of the film can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/89497394.