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Virginia Governor’s Mansion

Governor's Mansion

Virginia Governor's Mansion
Virginia Department of Historic Resources

 

The Virginia Governor’s Mansion, formally referred to as the Virginia Executive Mansion, is the oldest governor’s mansion in the United States built for that purpose. Its residents have had an important impact on the history of the nation as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia. Alexander Parris, a New England builder and architect, who resided in Richmond for three years, designed the Governor’s Mansion between 1811 and 1813.  It replaced an earlier house adjacent to the present mansion that Governor Thomas Jefferson leased and subsequent governors occupied after the state acquired it in 1782.  The dilapidated condition of the original wooden building prompted its replacement by the present executive mansion. 

The center-hall Governor’s Mansion is in the Federal style. A hipped roof and a balustrade that connects the four chimneys distinguish the two-story painted brick residence.  The building has a slightly projecting center bay where a four columned portico in the “Tower of the Winds” Corinthian order creates a monumental entrance to the building.  The façade is ornamented with decorative panels of garlands and swags.  

historic Governo's Mansion

Virginia Governor's Mansion
Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

The interior of the house evolved in two primary phases.  The stair hall and two front rooms on the first floor retain their original early 19th-century appearance and feature decoration and furnishings of that period.  A major renovation in 1906 by the architect Duncan Lee opened up the rear rooms of the building and added a large ballroom decorated in a suitably classical mode.  The private apartments of Virginia’s governors are on the second floor of the mansion. 

A sunken garden is to the south of the house.  Overlooking the garden are the original kitchen quarter and stables where the slaves and servants of Virginia governors resided and worked.  Family and staff of the governor use the dependencies and garden.

The Virginia Governor’s Mansion is the oldest building continuously used as an executive residence in the United States. Virginia governors who occupied the house witnessed and played a role in a number of important events in the history of the state and the nation such as Nat Turner’s Rebellion, John Brown’s raid, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the reception of dignitaries including Winston Churchill and Admiral Byrd.  In 2007, Virginia’s governor received Queen Elizabeth II at the mansion on her royal visit in honor of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Virginia. 

Plan your visit

The Virginia Governor’s Mansion, the Virginia Executive Mansion, is located at the northeast corner of Capitol Square near the intersection of Broad and 12th Sts. in downtown Richmond.  It has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file.    The Governor’s Mansion can be viewed from Capitol Square daily from 7:00am to 11:00pm and is open for interior tours by appointment and during certain open houses.  Call 804- 371-2642 for information or visit the Governor's Mansion website by searching for it in the official tourism website of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia Governor's Mansion and its Summer Kitchen have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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