Discover Austin: Governor's Mansion - Episode 52

For this episode of Discover Austin, I toured the mansion of the Texas Governor.  Located adjacent to the Capitol, you can take in a lot of Texas history while not having to go far.  If you'd prefer to learn about the Governor's mansion, the transcript can be found below the video.

Other Discover Austin topics mentioned or seen in this episode: Texas Capitol building

The Texas Governor’s Mansion is situated on two-acres of land at the corner of 11th and Colorado Streets.  The Greek Revival style mansion was completed in 1856 and, since then has been home to every Texas governor and their family.  Upon entering the entrance hall, the focus is on the U-shaped stairway at the far end much as it was in the mansion’s early days.  You can still see the marks where Governor Hogg nailed tacks into the railing to prevent his kids from sliding down the banister.  A painting entitled ‘Fall of the Alamo’ also hangs in the entry.

The Library room features the portrait of Texas founder Stephen F. Austin as well as his desk.  The books in the library are either about Texas or written by Texans.

In the small parlor hangs the portrait of former mansion resident Sam Houston who twice served as president of the Republic of Texas then also as the 7th governor after Texas joined the United States.

The large parlor is home to half of the governor’s memento collection.  This collection of personal items of former governors includes a Colt pistol and a Civil War battle sword.

The spacious formal dining room has hosted many state dinners.  Guests of the mansion have included such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth the Second and President William McKinley.

The conservatory is used for both family and informal dining.  While it used to be a porch, it was enclosed back in 1914.  The second half of the governor’s memento collection is here.  It includes some of Ann Richards’ Jewelry and Rick Perry’s Texas A&M Class Ring.

There are two official state bedrooms upstairs.  The Pease bedroom is named after the first governor to live in the residence, Elisha (Alicia) Pease and his wife Lucadia.  The Sam Houston bedroom is the birthplace of the first child born in the mansion, Temple Lee Houston.

The impressive grounds have hosted many events including bill signings, Easter Egg hunts, and, most importantly, BBQs.

The original mansion had 11 rooms and covered over 5,000 square feet.  Part of this area is what the public sees on the tour.  The governor’s mansion now has over 11,000 square feet and the first family actually lives in the newer portion.  In 2008, an arsonist set fire to the mansion resulting in significant damage.  Fortunately, a major renovation had just started so all the historic items had been removed and damage was limited to the structure itself.  The restoration from the fire was completed in 2012.

The Texas Governor’s Mansion is a gorgeous building with some great Texas history.  Though the tours have limited availability and advance reservations are required, it’s well worth your time to visit. 

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