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.
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.
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.
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.
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).