Texas Governor’s Mansion A brief history of Texas’ most historic home and official residence of every Governor since 1856.
A New Executive Residence Built in 1856, 17 years after Austin was founded Austin was a small frontier community, less than 2,500 residents when the Mansion was completed Legislature appropriated $14,500 for the building, and $2,500 for furnishings Currently, the 4 th oldest continuously occupied Governor’s residence in the U.S.
Committee Decides on Design The Texas Legislature created a committee to oversee the design and construction of the Mansion consisting of Governor Pease, State Comptroller James Shaw, and State Treasurer James H. Raymond. Conjectural drawing of the Mansion before the committee eliminated two wings to save money.
The Mansion’s Greek Revival design is attributed to Cook’s early career in Nashville, Tennessee, where this style was popular. This is evident in the Mansion’s columns, symmetrical design, and central front door. Design Cook was a prominent builder in Austin who built several grand houses in this style. Abner Cook Governor’s Mansion, c. 1870
Governor and Mrs. Pease First Lady Lucadia Pease influenced many of the decisions about the Mansion, including its location on a city block next to the Capitol grounds. The site offered a view, and land for stables and Lucadia’s beloved gardens. Lucadia Pease Elisha Pease
Original furnishings were bought in New York by commissioned Austin merchant S.M. Swenson, but due to a lack of funds, only the downstairs was furnished, leaving 3 bedrooms bare. Furnishings were Sparse in the Early Days Walnut wardrobe, probably Texas-made, has been used since the 1860’s
Years of Change In the 1870’s, running water, gas lights, and a modern toilet improved the Mansion. 19 th Century Texas had little money to spend on Mansion repairs and furnishings. By the 1950’s the buildings required updating, so the foundation and roof were fixed while a modern heating/air conditioning system was installed. View of the Mansion from the Capital, circa 1889
Major Restoration Designated a National Historical Landmark, 1976 Governor and Mrs. Clements made the Mansion a priority during their first term, 1979-83 $1 Million spent by the State for structural renovation of the building from 1979-82 $3 Million from Friends of the Governor’s Mansion for the interior and furnishings Front Entry Hall
References The Governor’s Mansion of Texas: A Tour of Texas’ Most Historic Home. Dealey Decherd Herndon, ed. Friends of the Governor’s Mansion. Austin, 1997. The Texas Governor’s Mansion. Jean Houston Daniel, Price Daniel and Dorothy Blodgett. Texas State Library and Archives. Austin, 1984.
Other Sources Friends of the Governor’s Mansion web site www.txfgm.org Texas Governor’s Office web site www.governor.state.tx.us/about/mansion Texas State Archives and Library www.tsl.state.tx.us
Photo References Slide 1: Austin History Center AF-Governor’s Mansion G3800 (I) PICA 06526 Slide 3: Hendricks and Walls, Inc. Dallas Slide 4 left : AHC AF-BIO Cook, Abner PICB 01890 Slide 4 right : AHC AF-Governor’s Mansion General G3800 (I) PICA 08592 detail shown Slide 5: Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, Austin Slide 6 Hickey Robertson Photographers, Houston Slide 7: Texas State Library 1932/5-105 Slide 8: Hickey Robertson Photographers, Houston Slide 9: Jane Karotkin, Austin
Design by: Colin Blankenship Old House Productions Copyright 2004, Friends of the Governor’s Mansion Austin, Texas