Paralyzed Veterans of America Celebrates Virginia Governor’s Mansion for its Accessible Design Accomplishment

Post Date: April 25, 2017
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WASHINGTON, DC 4/25/17 –  Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) presented the Virginia Governor’s Mansion with its 2017 Barrier-Free America Award at a private event on the evening of April 24.  Paralyzed Veterans presents the award annually to public access buildings that incorporate accessible architectural design, demonstrating the importance of equal access in the built environment for all individuals with disabilities.

Accepting on behalf of the people of Virginia were Governor McAuliffe and First Lady McAuliffe. “Dorothy and I are proud to accept this award on behalf of the many stakeholders who worked with us to expand access to the first floor of the Executive Mansion, while respecting the building’s historic and architectural integrity,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “The Executive Mansion is the people’s house, and it should be accessible to all Virginians and visitors, including those who have been injured in service to our country.”

“The goal of this project was to make everyone who comes to the Executive Mansion feel welcome and included when visiting and touring this very special historic home,” added First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.  “The Governor and I are truly grateful to the architectural and preservation experts who gave us guidance and support throughout this process, making our vision a reality.”

The Governor’s Mansion is located at the heart of Richmond, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s capital city.  It is one of America’s oldest executive residences, sitting within the gates of a park-like area that includes the state capitol building, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson.  The Executive Mansion has been the home to Virginia’s governors since 1813, and Governor McAuliffe is the 55th governor to reside there.

Until last year, visitors with mobility disabilities had to enter the historic landmark through the basement, at the back of the building. In March, Governor McAuliffe debuted an accessibility facelift for the national historic landmark. Now, wheelchair users and all those with disabilities can enter the mansion via a ramp that is connected to an existing breezeway leading to the southern entrance on the first floor of the mansion. The first floor is the formal reception area used to welcome visitors and guests. Guests in wheelchairs used the new ramp to enter the mansion for last night’s event.

“The Barrier-Free Award is a symbol of freedom, and one that recognizes the dignity and respect that accessible design offers so many injured veterans and all disabled Americans,” stated Executive Director Sherman Gillums, Jr.  “When I arrived at the Governor’s Mansion last evening to attend this very special event, and entered the first floor of the mansion using the new, accessible ramp, I could fully appreciate the work it took the architectural team to maintain the historical integrity of the building.  And I could personally appreciate the ease and graciousness the ramp offers disabled visitors.  Paralyzed Veterans of America is proud to present the Virginia Governor’s Mansion with its 2017 Barrier-Free America Award, and thanks Governor McAuliffe and the First Lady for welcoming us into the ‘People’s Home’ to celebrate this accomplishment.”

For nearly 30 years, Paralyzed Veterans’ architects have been on a mission to promote accessible design for the entire nation. Since 2001, Paralyzed Veterans’ Architecture team has been the leader in recognizing exemplary accessible design by others through our annual Barrier-Free America Award. The award honors and promotes leadership, innovation and action in the architectural, design and construction communities for advancing accessibility—an advancement that improves the quality of life for everyone.

Previous recipients of the award have included architects, business people, philanthropists and television personalities. For more information: