The Governor's Mansion
The Governor's Mansion is an elegant Victorian house in Jefferson City that belongs to all Missiourians, but only a few people have actually called it their home.
"I think the main thing about the house is that it has tremendous vistas. The 17 foot ceilings here on the first and second floor, 14 foot ceilings on the third floor. Huge door openings and windows. Actually built as a house so that there could be a great flow of people from one room to the other," Mansion Preservationist Mary Pat Abele says.
Scattered throughout those great halls and rooms are elaborate pieces of furniture appropriate to the area.
"In the middle of the great hall is a middle Renaissance suite. It came to us from the Smithsonian exhibition. We've been told we have the best collection of light fixtures of this period in the country. These fixtures in here are not as early as the 1870s, but they are to the late 1880s when electricity came to Jefferson City," Abele says. "The double parlor is actually two rooms, more like our living rooms of today. Two rooms used as one as a formal seating area. It has some wonderful furniture in it...again Renaissance revival."
Abele says one piece has been with the mansion since it was built.
"The sideboard piece over here is the one piece that was here when the mansion was built and it came from an earlier Governor's residence. Dates to about the 1820s," Abele says. "One of the most dramatic features of the house is this gorgeous solid walnut, grand stairway. It was described as a free-flowing staircase when it was built with no visible supports."
Everything from the colors of the drapes to the patterns on the wall are carefully chosen for their authentic qualities.
"So what we have done is look at other homes that George Ingham Barnett did in the 1870s and other period houses. And from that I think we have been able to capture what this house would have looked like. We knew that the library was done in green and gold. We knew that the parlor had colors from the era of reds and tans and some wonderful stenciling on the ceilings and documented that actually we found the mixture of colors from the 1870s and have used these formulas to recreate the colors we have today," Abele says.
Abele is the Executive Director of Missouri Mansion Preservation and has spent more than 30 years working to preserve the heritage of the Governor's Mansion. She has seen a number of first families come and go. And she has seen a variety of events from state dinners to inaugural balls, but her favorite is the annual holiday tour held each December.
"Missouri Mansion Preservation has a wonderful collection of antique toys and our Victorian toy box theme will incorporate those toys with Victorian decorations," Abele says. "Well it's a festive time of year."
Governor Matt Blunt and his family will greet mansion visitors during this year's holiday candlelight tours. That event will be held on Friday, December 2nd from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday, December 3rd from 4 to 6 p.m.