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HomeWisconsin Executive Residence Foundation (WERF)

The Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation (WERF)

The Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation (WERF) is a non-profit, non-partisan, all-volunteer foundation that raises funds and sets standards and criteria to ensure the continuing and consistent maintenance, restoration and preservation of the residence, appropriately both for its public functions and as the residence of the governor and the first family. This includes overseeing changes to the architectural and decorative integrity of the building, decorative furnishings, and the grounds, including purchases, donations or loans.

With dedicated volunteers, generous monetary and/or property donations, WERF is able to effect interior and exterior maintenance, improvements, renovations, and upkeep of the public areas of the state-owned Executive Residence, as well as its furnishings, artwork and historic heirlooms, to be experienced and enjoyed by visitors now and for generations to come.

Through its fundraising efforts, WERF has completed numerous renovation, remodeling and maintenance projects including refurbishing the garden gazebo, converting fireplaces to gas and repairing the exterior chimney, updating the family living quarters and dignitary suite, refurbishing the sunroom, refinishing the foyer stairs, and conducting a remodel of the Executive Residence kitchen, which had not been updated in more than 25 years.

WERF, with significant input by First Lady Jessica Doyle, the wife of Governor James Doyle [2003-2011] also commissioned an oil painting by Milwaukeean artist David Lenz titled Wishes in the Wind (2010), depicting children in an urban Wisconsin setting, which hangs above the mantel in the living room, adding artistic warmth and joy to the room.



History of WERF
The Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation was established in 1966 by act of the Wisconsin Legislature at the request of First Lady Dorothy Knowles, the wife of Governor Warren Knowles [1965-1971]. She said at the time "the place was a firetrap, we were afraid to move in." After the establishment of the foundation, the Executive Residence received its first major renovation since its purchase by the state in 1949. Since its beginning, the Governor's spouse acts as ex-officio chair of the foundation's board whose mission as a non-profit fundraising organization continues even now to oversee and serve the upkeep of residence and to preserve its history and its beauty for visitors to access and enjoy today and well into the future.

State Capitol and Executive Residence Board (SCERB)
A 16-member State Capitol Executive Residence Board (SCERB), includes seven citizen members with specified expertise, appointed by the governor to serve staggered six-year terms. The purpose of SCERB is to direct the continuing and consistent maintenance of the State Capitol and the Executive Residence, including approving the annual maintenance budget and major capital improvements. Renovations, most repairs and furnishings must be approved by SCERB. The Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation (WERF), a non-profit, raises money to pay for maintenance for the Executive Residence that SCERB is unable or opposed to spend state tax dollars on.