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Security fence completed around Iowa governor’s mansion at Terrace Hill
Amid heightened concerns about threats to public officials, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, the state’s Department of Public Safety earlier this year embarked on a plan to upgrade security at the governor’s residence in the historic Terrace Hill mansion in Des Moines.
DPS officials, who have been in charge of protecting Iowa’s governors and their families since 1970, said they are continually reviewing infrastructure security protocols and technology upgrades for the governor’s residence.
According to DPS officials, the foiled attempt last year to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reinforced “long-standing concerns” regarding the safety of public officials. That moved closer to home when Iowa State Patrol officers earlier this year arrested and brought criminal charges against an Iowa man for allegedly leaving a threatening voicemail message for the Iowa governor.
What’s happened since
At the recommendation of a 2020 assessment from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, Iowa officials have installed a wrought iron fence around the perimeter of the Victorian mansion that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Iowa had been one of only a few states remaining without security fencing around the governor’s residence.
The Terrace Hill improvements are part of an overall initiative to improve the security footprint at state facilities, according to officials at the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
“Putting that fence in is something that’s been worked on for many years. It took a lot of coordination between a lot of different groups to get that put in place,” said state public safety spokesman Sgt. Alex Dinkla, who did not have a total cost estimate for the security upgrades at Terrace Hill. In April, Department of Public Safety officials said the fence would cost $400,000.
“It’s a secure facility, and it always has been a secure facility. We’ve had troopers that are staffed at that location as well as a lot of the other state office buildings,” he noted.
Even though it’s a secure facility, tours that were suspended earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic have resumed as Terrace Hill remains accessible to the public.
“Security enhancements to Terrace Hill benefit all future governors,” DPS Commissioner Stephan Bayens said in a news release. “Terrace Hill serves as the family home for our governors and their families, and we need to provide the safest environment possible for them.”
Terrace Hill was donated to the state in 1971 by the Hubbell family for use as the governor’s residence. Tours are available at 10:30 a.m. and noon Tuesdays through Saturdays. Reservations must be made 48 hours in advance by calling (515) 242-5841. For more, go to terracehill.iowa.gov/visit.