GREEK REVIVAL REVIVED
The Governor’s Mansion, official residence of the state’s chief executive, was constructed of local Austin brick between 1854 and 1856 for $ 14,500, with an additional $2,500 appropriated for interior furnishings (which, according to records, wasn’t enough). Architect Abner Cook designed the 19th century Greek Revival structure, appropriating Bastrop timber for the six Ionic columns across the mansion’s façade. Governor Elisha M. Pease was the first to occupy the stately home, followed by Runnels, Sam Houston, and two others before Pendleton Murrah moved in and provided the mansion with its first ghost – a young nephew who committed suicide in one of the bedrooms. In 1901 the mansion received a Victorian makeover courtesy of First Lady Oline Sayers. By 1914 major repairs and renovations were required to maintain the mansion, then over sixty years old. The surrounding grounds were brought under control by First Lady Nellie Connally in the 1960s who guided the landscape designs that continue to reflect the formal gardens seen today. A complete structural restoration began in 1979 and was completed in 1982. Then, in 2008, during a major maintenance project, an arsonist set fire to the mansion that caused considerable damage. Today, the mansion has been restored to its original elegance (including a modern addition – a fire suppression system) where visitors may take a guided tour and examine the home’s outstanding collection of 19th century American antiques, portraits, and heirlooms.