Museums & Historic Sites

Today we continue the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion series, written by guest blogger Mary Lohrenz, curator of the mansion.   
Governor John J. Pettus. Call Number: PI/1989.0008 (MDAH Collection)

Governor John J. Pettus. Call Number: PI/1989.0008 (MDAH Collection)

Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys. Call Number: PI/1989.0008 (MDAH Collection)

Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys. Call Number: PI/1989.0008 (MDAH Collection)

On January 9, 1861, Mississippi seceded from the Union and was soon involved in fighting for its life against forces of the United States.  On May 6, 1863, as Union troops advanced towards the capital of Jackson, state government bureaus and offices were forced to evacuate the city and Governor John Jones Pettus had to flee his residence in the Governor’s Mansion.  Jackson fell to Union troops on May 14, 1863, who then left the city to take part in their campaign against Vicksburg.  On May 29, 1863, Dr. R. N. Anderson addressed Governor Pettus that he was using the Mansion to care for wounded and ill Confederate soldiers.  In early June 1863, Governor Pettus returned to Jackson, but after the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, he left the city before it was reoccupied by Northern soldiers. On the evening of July 18, 1863, General William T. Sherman and other Union officers dined in the Governor’s Mansion and toasted the joint successes of the U.S. Army and Navy.

During the remainder of the Civil War, restless state government offices remained on the move and exiled from their capital city, Jackson.  First settling briefly in Meridian, the capital moved to Columbus and Macon.  Furniture from the Governor’s Mansion was sent to the temporary capital of Macon for safekeeping.  In the wake of the tragic war, in October 1865, Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys authorized a person to retrieve the Mansion furniture from Macon.  It, however, had been either stolen or destroyed and could not be located.

Sofa belonging to Gov. Humphreys. Accession Number: 93.1.1 (Governor's Mansion Collection)

Sofa belonging to Gov. Humphreys. Accession Number: 93.1.1 (Mississippi Governor's Mansion Collection)

Today, Mansion visitors can view the c. 1850 sofa (on exhibit in the Gold Bedroom) which belonged to Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys and was probably used in the Governor’s Mansion during his 1865 – 1868 term as governor.  This Rococo Revival style sofa was the private property of Governor Humphreys and was donated to the Governor’s Mansion by his descendents in 1993.

Read more about the Mansion’s history and view frequently asked questions about the mansion. 

Free tours of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion are given Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the half-hour.  Reservations are required for groups of ten or more.  Because the mansion may be closed for official state functions, you should call 601-359-6421 to confirm tour availability.

Sources:

Cain, Helen and Anne D. Czarniecki.  An Illustrated Guide to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.  Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1984.

Howell, H. Grady, Jr.  Chimneyville:  “likenesses”of early days in Jackson, Mississippi.  Madison, Mississippi:  Chickasaw Bayou Press, 2007.

Lohrenz, Mary.  Mississippi Governor’s Mansion Docent Manual.  January 2011.

Sansing, David G. and Carroll Waller.  A History of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.  Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1977.

Skates, John Ray.  Mississippi’s Old Capitol: Biography of a Building.  Jackson:  Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1990.

Smith, Timothy B.  Mississippi in the Civil War:  The Home Front.  Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi for the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 2010.

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Today we continue the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion series, written by guest blogger Mary Lohrenz, curator of the mansion. This post continues her discussion of the Greek Revival style of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.

Let’s go inside to discover more Greek Revival elements. You can also view the floorplans of the Governor’s Mansion.

Foyer, Governor's Mansion, 2000

Octagonal foyer, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2000

Foyer column detail, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2010

Foyer column detail, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2010

The mansion’s octagonal foyer has columns that are a different interpretation of the Corinthian order than those on the front portico.

The Corinthian foyer columns are set in antis, meaning round columns placed between square columns or piers.  Mansion architect William Nichols also used Doric columns set in antis for the side entrances of the 1839 Mississippi Capitol. 

Architrave over Front Rose Parlor door to foyer, Governor's Mansion, 2009

Architrave over Front Rose Parlor door to foyer, Governor's Mansion, 2009

Architrave, Black Rose Parlor looking into Front Rose Parlor, Governor's Mansion, 2009

Architrave over pocket doors, Back Rose Parlor looking into Front Rose Parlor, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2009

Architrave, LaFever engravings, 1839

Architrave, Lafever engravings, 1839

There are ornately-carved architraves (ornamental moldings) with the Greek honeysuckle design above the pocket doors located between the Front and Back Rose Parlors and between the State Dining Room and the Gold Parlor and above the front door and selected first floor room doors. William Nichols patterned these after engravings published in Minard Lafever’s The Beauties of Modern Architecture (3rd edition, 1839).   

Mantel, Green Bedroom, Governor's Mansion, 2009

Mantel, Green Bedroom, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2009

"Chimney Pieces," La Fever engravings, 1839

"Chimney Pieces," Lafever engravings, 1839

William Nichols also used Lafever’s publication as the pattern for the Greek Revival rosette design of the original wooden mantel in the mansion’s Green Bedroom.

Read more about the mansion’s history and view frequently asked questions

Free tours of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion are given Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the half-hour.  Reservations are required for groups of ten or more.  Because the mansion may be closed for official state functions, you should call 601-359-6421 to confirm tour availability.

Sources:

Helen Cain and Anne D. Czarniecki,  An Illustrated Guide to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1984).

Mary Lohrenz, Mississippi Governor’s Mansion Docent Manual (January 2011).

C. Ford Peatross and Robert O. Mellown,  William Nichols, Architect  (Tuscaloosa:  University of Alabama Art Gallery, 1979).

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Today we continue the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion series, written by guest blogger Mary Lohrenz, curator of the mansion. 

Designed by architect William Nichols, who also designed the 1839 Mississippi Capitol, the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion is an outstanding example of domestic Greek Revival architecture.  Greek Revival is a style based on the reuse of ancient Greek architectural forms.  The Greek Revival style often combines both Roman and Greek influences and is sometimes called the Classical style.

What is Greek Revival about the mansion? 

Front portico, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2010

Choragic monument of Lysicrates, drawn by Stuart and Revett

Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, drawn by Stuart and Revett, 1762

Let’s start with the front exterior. The design of the Corinthian columns on the 1841 mansion front portico is the same as that of the Corinthian columns on the 334 B.C. Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, Greece.  William Nichols may have used the scale drawings of this ancient Greek monument that were published in The Antiquities of Athens, Volume I (1762) by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett. 

Northeast column capital, Portico, Governor's Mansion

Northeast column capital, Portico, Mississippi Governor's Mansion, 2010

Scale drawing of choragic monument of Lysicrates, by Stuart and Revett

Scale drawing of Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, by Stuart and Revett, 1762

Look particularly at the capital (decorative top) of the Corinthian columns of the Mansion portico and the ancient Athens monument in the images above to see the similarities.

More mansion architecture coming next…

Read more about the mansion’s history and view frequently asked questions

Free tours of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion are given Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the half-hour.  Reservations are required for groups of ten or more.  Because the mansion may be closed for official state functions, you should call 601-359-6421 to confirm tour availability.

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Antique Quilt

On November 5, 2010, in Artifacts, Museums & Historic Sites, by Amanda
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Accession Number: 1987.48.1 (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)

This is one of many beautiful quilts in the collection of the Museum of Mississippi History. This “Honeycomb” or “Martha Washington’s Flower Garden” pattern quilt was made by Millies Lake, a freed slave from Grenada (Grenada County) around 1848.

Artifacts in the collection of the Museum of Mississippi History are available for viewing by appointment only. Please contact Cindy Gardner, Director of Collections or Nan Prince, Asst. Director of Collections by email to schedule an appointment.

Today we introduce guest blogger Mary Lohrenz, curator of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. She wrote this month’s series of posts on the home of Mississippi’s executive.

Governor's Mansion exterior

Mississippi Governor's Mansion today.

The 1841 Mississippi Governor’s Mansion is a National Historic Landmark and the second-oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the United States. (The Virginia Governor’s Mansion in Richmond has been in continuous use since 1813.) English-born architect William Nichols designed the governor’s mansion in the period’s most popular architectural style—Greek Revival.

Governor's Mansion, late 19th century

Late 19th century, west side of mansion. Call Number: PI/HH/1982.0019 (MDAH Collection)

The governor’s mansion survived the Civil War but fell into disrepair through neglect during the lean post-war years. In March 1908 the Mississippi Legislature allocated $30,000 for a renovation directed by local architect William S. Hull. The 1908-09 project included the construction of a two-story family annex to the rear of the mansion.

Despite occasional appropriations for repair and furnishings, the mansion deteriorated structurally and a major restoration became necessary. Shortly after Governor William Waller’s 1972 inauguration, the legislature allocated funding for a $2.7 million restoration and renovation of the mansion. Historical records were studied for information on the mansion’s early interiors, and an investigation of the house itself was conducted. Museum-quality antiques were acquired to furnish the historic structure. The 1909 annex was replaced with a 1975 annex to provide family living quarters and office space. On June 8, 1975, the restored mansion was formally dedicated and Mississippi’s chief executive residence reopened to the public.

In 1980, the legislature gave the Mississippi Department of Archives and History statutory authority over the 1841 historic section and grounds of the mansion. The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion continues to serve as the residence of the state’s highest executive and to welcome countless visitors from schoolchildren to tourists to dignitaries from the United States and abroad.

Read more about the Mansion’s history and view frequently asked questions

Free tours of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion are given Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the half-hour.  Reservations are required for groups of ten or more.  Because the Governor’s Mansion may be closed for official state functions, you should call 601-359-6421 to confirm tour availability. 

Sources:

Helen Cain and Anne D. Czarniecki, An Illustrated Guide to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1984). 

David G. Sansing and Carroll Waller, A History of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1977).

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