Executive Mansion

Historical Marker #2229 in Frankfort commemorates Kentucky's Executive Mansion, the state’s second governor's residence.

In 1911, Governor Augustus E. Wilson recommended that a new governor's mansion be built near the new capitol building in south Frankfort. The legislature appropriated $75,000 for land purchase and mansion construction. This act also stipulated the use of Kentucky stone in the construction of the building, so limestone from Bowling Green was used.

The Sinking Fund Commission, chaired by future Governor James B. McCreary, was created to lead the planning and construction of the mansion. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, the twenty-five room limestone mansion's main facade was modeled after Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon in Versailles, France. Construction and decoration plans changed many times. This included replacing a conservatory with a ballroom the mansion's north side. It was believed that a ballroom would better serve the requisite public operations of the private residence.

In June 1912, construction bids that had been received were determined to be too high. Therefore, the initial plans were reevaluated and the bidding process was reopened. Frankfort's Capital Lumber and Manufacturing Company's bid of $62,945 was selected and the ground-breaking occurred on July 25, 1912. The construction lasted two years. During the building process there were issues with the water and sewage system, delayed deliveries of stone, and fire hazard concerns. Ultimately, worries about fire prompted the use of stone instead of wood in some interior walls. Many furnishings from the old mansion were moved to the new mansion to save money.

Governor James B. McCreary was the first governor to live in the new mansion despite the grounds and the residence not being completed. By January 1914, construction costs totaled approximately $95,000, more than $19,000 over the original estimates. Although the mansion was not officially complete, formal receptions were held for selected Frankfort citizens in January 1914 and for the General Assembly in March 1914.

In 1979, Governor John Y. Brown, Jr., and his family had only lived in the mansion a month when the State Fire Marshal declared the building to be a fire trap. During its sixty-five years, no major renovations had occurred. First Lady Phyllis George Brown formed a nonprofit organization, Save the Mansion, Inc., to raise funds to renovate the structure and redecorate the interior space to complement the architecture. Renovations began in the fall of 1982, and were completed in spring 1983.

In 2007, Governor Ernie Fletcher and First Lady Glenna Fletcher moved in and realized additional renovations were needed because the plaster and paint was peeling and falling away from the walls. Mrs. Fletcher formed the Governor's Mansion Preservation Foundation to raise funds for the project. State funds were used to update the heating and cooling system and the exterior windows and doors. The foundation focused on the Mansion’s interior and repaired or replaced the plaster, stripped and painted the walls, restored the hardwood floors, and purchased new window treatments, rugs, and carpets.

The Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Images

Musicians at Mansion

Musicians at Mansion

A banjo player and accordion player entertain at the Governor's Mansion in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Entertaining at the Mansion

Entertaining at the Mansion

A party or reception at the Governor's Mansion in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Executive Mansion

Executive Mansion

Photo of the front lawn/garden during the renovations in the early 1980s. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Executive Mansion

Executive Mansion

Photo of the side entrance of the Mansion in the early 1980s. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Executive Mansion

Executive Mansion

Modern photo of the renovated Governor's Mansion. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Kate Sowada, “Executive Mansion,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed March 24, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/611.

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