The Virginia Governor's Mansion, better known as the Executive Mansion, is located in Richmond, Virginia on Capitol Square and serves as the official residence of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Designed by Alexander Parris, it is the oldest occupied governor's mansion in the United States. It has served as the home of Virginia governors and their families since 1813. This mansion is both a Virginia and a National Historic Landmark, and has had a successive number of renovations and expansions over the 20th century. During the Civil War, it was a center of leadership because Richmond was the second capital of the Confederate States of America and Virginia's statehouse held offices for the Confederacy. Adjacent and immediately north of Capitol Square is the Court End neighborhood, which houses the White House of the Confederacy.
When Richmond became the capital of Virginia in 1779, there was no residence for the governor, but Thomas Jefferson rented one. The state was so poor that they could not pay the rent in time, so they blamed Jefferson for the problem. The state finally paid off their rent and built a residence for the governor on the site of the present building.
The law that provided the construction of the current building was signed on February 13, 1811, by James Monroe. Monroe's term ended and he was succeeded by George William Smith. Smith, however, was not the first governor to live in the mansion because he lost his life in the burning of the Richmond Theatre saving others December 26, 1811. His successor, James Barbour, was the first governor to live in the mansion. The term "mansion" was not used in the law that it was erected from, but it has been used ever since.
Governor's Mansion Cottage House
During the Administration of Governor James S. Gilmore III the Mansion was renovated and expanded in an effort to restore the home to its historical appearance, but also to bring the Mansion into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide additional living space for the First Family.
Currently, Governor Bob McDonnell occupies the mansion. His predecessor's wife, Anne Holton, lived in the mansion in the 1970s when her father, A. Linwood Holton Jr., was governor. She is the first First Lady of Virginia to live in Virginia's Executive Mansion both as a child and as a First Lady. (Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, known as "Patsy", was married to Virginia Governor Thomas Mann Randolph Jr., but never lived in the Mansion).
The Executive Mansion was featured on American Idol (season 5) when Governor Tim Kaine and First Lady Anne Holton welcomed Richmond-native and Idol-finalist Elliott Yamin and his family to the mansion on national television.
The Mansion's most notable television appearance occurred on January 31, 2006, when recently-inaugurated Governor Tim Kaine delivered the Democratic response to the 2006 State of the Union address. The theme of Kaine's speech, "A Better Way", focused on the policies of the Democratic Party and highlighted Virginia's successes under Kaine and former Democratic Governor Mark R. Warner, including its status as the "Best Managed State" in 2005. The address was delivered from the Mansion's historic ballroom.
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