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#HomeHistory at the Executive Mansion

As the nation's oldest continuously occupied governor's mansion, the Executive Mansion of Virginia's rich #homehistory dates back hundreds of years and is being made every day. What began in 2022 as a simple hashtag on First Lady Suzanne Youngkin's Instagram account, Home History aims to share the stories of this stately home, its residents, grounds, visitors and more. Read below to discover the #homehistory that makes the Executive Mansion Virginia's home. Want to learn more #homehistory? Check out our 2022 post archive

A silver punch bowl filled with a floral arrangement on a white table cloth.

June 1, 2023

USS Virginia Silver Service

Visit Richmond’s Executive Mansion to see the spectacular, shining silver service — one of the most valued heirlooms in the Mansion’s long #homehistory. A donation of tradition to the USS Virginia by the Commonwealth in 1906, the silver spent time on the USS Richmond and the USS Roanoke, only to be eventually held in temporary storage in San Francisco. The Navy agreed to return the silver to Virginia in 1958, and in 2004, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the official owner of the 51-piece set. Visit the Executive Mansion in person on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or learn more in our website's Historical Features section!

Black and white photograph of 1940s era Navy sailors walking on a city street in Norfolk, Virginia.

May 29, 2023

A. Aubrey Bodine's Photo of U.S. Navy Sailors

This Memorial Day, The Executive Mansion honors the brave Virginians and Americans who have given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country and its people. Virginia’s military #homehistory is longstanding and continuous; today, Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval station, supporting 75 ships, 134 aircrafts and housing the largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces. This photo, taken by A. Aubrey Bodine in 1941, captures U.S. Navy sailors on a street in Norfolk during World War II and is part of the Art Experience at the Executive Mansion. 

A 1973 photo of Governor Holton and a group of Vietnam War POWs.

May 26, 2023

50 Year Anniversary of the Return of Virginia's Vietnam War POWs

As Memorial Day approaches, The Governor and First Lady reflect on the honor of hosting Vietnam POW veterans and their families at the Executive Mansion this spring. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War as well as the 1973 reception where then-Governor Holton welcomed these brave men home, The Executive Mansion made #homehistory with these heroes again. Special appreciation to Secretary of Defense and Veterans Affairs, General Craig Crenshaw, and all Virginians who have, or do, serve to protect freedom.

A painting of bluebells lining a path through a lush green forest. People are walking on the path.

May 24, 2023

Joyce Lee's 'Field Trip in Riverbend Park'

This Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we feature McLean Project for the Arts artist Joyce Lee. Making #homehistory, Lee’s Field Trip in Riverbend Park is the first piece painted by an Asian American Virginian to hang in the Executive Mansion through the Art Experience. Lee, who immigrated from South Korea to the U.S. at 19, captures the serenity and beauty of the bluebells in springtime at Riverbend Park in Great Falls, VA. Please visit Richmond’s Executive Mansion in person on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — or check out the Art Experience section — to view Lee’s Field Trip in Riverbend Park and other amazing works!

Stanley Bleifield's sketch of civil rights activist, Barbara Johns.

April 23, 2023

Barbara Johns Day

On this day in 1951, a 16 year-old girl led 450 of her classmates on a two-week strike against the unequal conditions at an all-Black high school in Farmville, Virginia. We recognize today as ‘Barbara Johns Day’ — honoring Johns’ bravery and heroism which contributed to the deconstruction of school segregation and reminds us that you are never too young to make #homehistory. Virginian Stanley Bleifield’s sketch of Johns currently hangs in the Executive Mansion’s ladies parlor. It is the inspiration for the Virginia Rights Memorial in Richmond’s Capitol Square. To learn more, visit the Art Experience tab!

Buffalo Gap, a painting by Horace Day.

April 22, 2023

Celebrating Earth Day through the Art Experience

Happy Earth Day! An important part of #homehistory at the Executive Mansion is captured in landscape paintings by talented Virginians. These works showcase the prolific beauty of Virginia’s mountains, waterways, forests, flora, beaches and more! Visit the Art Experience tab to discover more Virginia landscape paintings and others that are part of today’s, ever-evolving Art Experience at the Executive Mansion and read below to learn about Buffalo Gap and artist Horace Day.


Buffalo Gap is located west of Staunton, Virginia. This region was seldom celebrated in art until Horace Day started painting in the area. Day was a professor of art at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. He taught jointly with his wife, Elizabeth Nottingham, who was also an artist. Day claimed to have painted at least once in every county in Virginia. He viewed himself as painting in the tradition of the old masters and was equally at ease with landscape, portraits, and still-life subjects. Buffalo Gap showcases a forgotten region, inspiring other artists to continue celebrating its beauty.

The Governor and First Lady pose in front of the floral arrangement in the Dining Room on Historic Garden Day.

April 21, 2023

90 Years of Virginia Historic Garden Week

Virginia’s home is blooming for Historic Garden Week! Celebrating its 90th birthday, Garden Club of Virginia's Historic Garden Week is the nation’s ONLY statewide house and garden tour and has been a part of the Executive Mansion’s #homehistory for decades. Proceeds from the week of festivities fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic public gardens. Thank you Boxwood Garden Club of Richmond and Tony Griffin for filling the Mansion grounds with beautiful flora from Capitol Square.

The interior of the Executive Mansion greenhouse.

April 14, 2023

The Executive Mansion Greenhouse

On National Gardening Day, spring has sprung in the Executive Mansion’s greenhouse — a fruitful part of #homehistory, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Virginia Grown. The greenhouse provides crops that are fresh-picked and used by chefs in the kitchen almost every day. Shout-out to Tony Griffin, DGS superstar, who stewards our greenhouse and gardens. Want to see what’s growing in Capitol Square? Visit us on Friday, April 21st from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Historic Garden Week!

The Governor and First Lady pose with high school students from Petersburg, Virginia on the Executive Mansion front steps.

April 11 & 12, 2023

Visiting with Communities in Schools Petersburg

In partnership with Communities in Schools (CIS) of Petersburg, and with donated transport by Virginia State University buses, we welcomed #homehistory makers from Petersburg middle and high schools to Capitol Square. Students and educators toured the State Capitol as well as the Executive Mansion and picnicked on lunch donated by Chick-Fil-A. Students also took in art and history including William Clarke’s ‘School Bus’ and other paintings in the Art Experience that harken to education. Visit the Executive Mansion for your own tour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and visit the Art Experience Section to learn more.
Little girls look for Easter eggs on the Executive Mansion front lawn.

April 4, 2023

Easter Egg Hunt

As the Executive Mansion builds #homehistory through holiday gatherings, Governor Glenn Youngkin and the First Lady welcomed VCU Children’s Hospital employees and their families, as well as guests from Doorways Richmond, to a second-annual Easter egg hunt. The dedicated hospital staff, nonprofit and some of the patients they serve were treated to Kona Ice and Uncle Dave’s Kettle Korn, games, art-making and even a visit from the Easter Bunny! May the sunshine of the afternoon spread to all Virginians as they celebrate spring holidays and the changing of seasons. 

Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears has a conversation with a young girl.

April 2, 2023

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears

We applaud the fact that Virginia has its first, female Lieutenant Governor as well as the first Black female elected to statewide office.  #homeHERstory maker Winsome Earle-Sears has paved the way for millions of Women+girls (W+g)! During the last week of Women’s History Month, we unveiled Richmond artist Sukenya Best’s portrait of the Lieutenant Governor to be incorporated in to the Art Experience at the Executive Mansion. Head over to the Art Experience section to get a closer look at the portrait and to learn more about the artist and subject. 

Five female staff member of the Executive Mansion team pose in the dining room.

March 31, 2023

The Women of the Executive Mansion

For decades, women have been the backbone of the Executive Mansion’s conservation, history and function. In partnership, First Ladies and Virginia women’s club volunteers have served as docents for tours of the Executive Mansion — highlighting its rich and storied #homehistory. Today women are also key to a talented and dedicated Executive Mansion team!

A painting by Queena Stovall depicting a baptism by a river.

March 24, 2023

Artist Queena Stovall

Queena Stovall began painting at the age of 62, reminding women that it is never too late to follow their dreams. Stovall independently developed the techniques that established her unique painting style. Stovall’s art documented the lives and experiences of her community in rural Amherst County, as seen in her painting ‘Baptizing in Pedlar River’ on loan from The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. To learn more about Queena and her painting, head to the Art Experience tab and join us this Women’s History Month as we celebrate the women who have enriched and strengthened our Commonwealth’s #homehistory.

A portrait of Pocahontas wearing traditional English dress.

March 21, 2023

Honoring Pocahontas' Legacy

On Pocahontas Day, we remember the daughter of Paramount Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas, who acted as emissary for her people in Jamestown and England and was captured in 1614 by the English. Pocahontas died in England at the age of 20, where her funeral was held on March 21st, 1617. Over 400 years later, Pocahontas remains an esteemed aspect of our #homehistory and holds a place of honor in the Ladies’ Parlor at the Executive Mansion.

Painting by Maria Reardon featuring a red tractor being operated by a man in a cap and blue shirt.

March 16, 2023

Artist Maria Reardon's 'Plein Air' Paintings

This Agricultural Literacy Week, we highlight artist and Virginia native Maria Reardon. Reardon captures her observations of VA in the ‘plein air’ tradition and continues to make #homehistory by teaching painting classes at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Tuckahoe Women’s Club. To learn more about Reardon and her paintings ‘At the Tractor Pull’ and ‘Rodeo Pair’, visit the Art Experience tab

A framed portrait of Governor James Barbour.

March 12, 2023

210 Years of the Executive Mansion

On March 12, 1813, Governor James Barbour made #homehistory when he became the first person to move into Virginia’s Executive Mansion. Over the past 210 years, the Executive Mansion has undergone numerous renovations and improvements but through them all, one thing has remained true: The Executive Mansion will always be Virginia’s home. Governor Glenn Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin are deeply honored to be the 57th occupants of this historic residence and are dedicated to its enrichment and conservation.

A portrait of Virginia Claiborne by Adele Clark.

March 11, 2023

Women's and Civil Rights Activists Virginia Claiborne and Adele Clarke

The Ladies’ Parlor at the Executive Mansion boasts artwork that is making #homehistory by paying homage to Virginia’s women changemakers. This Women's History Month, we highlight a portrait of Virginia Claiborne — an activist for women’s education and occupational opportunity and early director of The Valentine Museum. The portrait was painted by Virginia’s Adele Clarke, a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia and an advocate for the desegregation of schools.

The Curtsey, painting by Antoinette Hale.

March 3, 2023

The Curtsey by Artist Antoinette Hale

African American artist Antoinette Hale grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, attended Virginia State University, and gathered inspiration for her paintings from her Virginia roots. Her work, “The Curtsey”, is on loan to the Executive Mansion from Roanoke’s Taubman Museum and highlights Hale’s interpretation of a ‘50’s annual cotillion.  It and other works by minority artists contribute to the Executive Mansion’s #homehistory. To view art celebrating Black History Month and upcoming Women’s History Month, visit in person on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or on the Art Experience section of our website.

Black and white photo of Professor Frank Trigg.

February 24, 2023

Professor Frank Trigg

During Black History Month, we amplify the African American stories that make up our #homehistory. One such story is that of Professor Frank Trigg. Born into slavery at the Executive Mansion in 1850, he tragically lost his arm at age 14 in an accident. Through perseverance and at the conclusion of the Civil War, Trigg enrolled in Hampton Institute where he befriended Booker T. Washington. During a long career of accomplishments in education, Trigg was tapped as the first African American supervisor for the Lynchburg Public School System, co-founded the all-Black Virginia Teachers Association and went on to become the president of several institutions along the east coast.

Portrait of George Washington in a gold frame.

February 20, 2023

Virginia: The Mother of Presidents

Nicknamed ‘The Mother of Presidents’, Virginia was the birthplace of four out of the first five presidents and eight presidents in total, three of which served as the state’s governor first! A legacy of service is part of the Commonwealth’s impressive #homehistory! Learn more about the Virginia natives who went on to become heads of state.

An old photo of Governor Wilder and toasting his daughter, Loren, wearing a white wedding dress.

February 17, 2023

Weddings at the Executive Mansion

In the Executive Mansion’s #homehistory, there have been less than a dozen nuptials with one of the more recent celebrations taking place in 1993 when Governor Wilder’s daughter, Loren, married Dr. Edward James. After a ceremony held at close-by St. Paul’s Church, the couple rode to the Mansion reception in a horse-drawn carriage.

Other wedding receptions at the Executive Mansion included the marriage of butler Winston H. Edmunds and Jennie Leigh in 1893 (Governor McKinney’s term), and the marriage of several governor’s daughters: Governor Pollard’s (1930-1934) daughter Suzanne Pollard and Herbert Lee Boatright, Jr in 1931, Governor Harrison’s (1962-1966) daughter Antoinette Harrison and James C. Jamison in 1963, Governor Dalton’s (1978-1982) daughter Katherine Dalton and David B. Mika in 1980, and Governor McDonnell’s (2010-2014) daughter, Caitlin McDonnell and Christopher Young in 2011.

Governor Youngkin and the First Lady lean in for a kiss as they each hold one of their dogs, Bo and Belle, in front of large letters 'L' and 'O'.

February 14, 2023

Virginia is for Lovers

The 74th First Family, Bo and Belle included, are loving serving Virginians and wish each and every one a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Did you know that ‘Virginia is for History Lovers’ was almost the state slogan but was shortened to allow citizens and visitors to choose what they love most about the state?

In 1969, the Virginia State Travel Service (now named the Virginia Tourism Corporation) hired Richmond advertising agency Martin & Woltz Inc. After a copywriter came up with the tagline “Virginia is for history lovers,” the idea being that advertisers could swap out the word ‘history’ for different ads featuring the state’s mountains or beaches, Martin and Woltz decided the phrase had the potential to restrict opportunities. The slogan was then edited down to “Virginia is for Lovers,” and the rest is #homehistory!

An artist stands next to his colorful painting.

February 10, 2023

Blackstone, Virginia artist William Clarke

The Executive Mansion’s Art Experience is making #homehistory by offering a richly diverse collection of Virginians’ works. One example is William H. Clarke, a folk artist based in Blackstone, Virginia who narrates rural African American heritage of old tobacco farming, country stores, baptisms, funerals and the daily life of his childhood. Watch Caroline Coleburn’s story on William Clarke, featuring an interview with First Lady Suzanne Youngkin and check out Clarke’s paintings, Higher Ground and School Bus, on the Art Experience tab.

A stylized portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

February 1, 2023

A.B. Jackson’s 'Portrait of Abraham Lincoln'

The Executive Mansion is excited to welcome #homehistory makers and our newest art partners, HBCU Hampton University, with their generous loan of artist A. B. Jackson’s Portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Jackson taught at Norfolk State University, moving on to Old Dominion University ten years later where he became the school’s first black faculty member. African American artists such as A.B. Jackson and their contributions are critical to the Executive Mansion’s #homehistory and the purpose of the Art Experience. To learn more about A.B. Jackson, read below.

A. B. Jackson was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of a black father and an English mother who was born in Manchester, England. He earned BFA and MFA degrees from Yale University, studying with Josef Albers in the mid-1950s. During his teaching years, Jackson also exhibited his art in many local and neighboring venues. After being denied entry to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art show in 1962 because of his race, he won best-in-show there in 1966. He received significant attention in 1968 when several of his drawings were included in a Smithsonian Institution traveling art exhibition. Influenced by Rembrandt, Jackson worked in a range of materials, including watercolors, pastels, charcoal and acrylic.

A terracotta plate and vase with Native American symbolism.

January 24, 2023

Native American artifacts at the Executive Mansion

Executive Mansion artifacts are an important part of our #homehistory. One example are gifts to the Governor from the Pamunkey Indian tribe celebrating the annual tax tradition — a treaty of 1646 between Virginia Indians and representatives of the King of England. These ceramic items include story symbolism incorporating flying geese, peace pipes, furs presented for good luck and more.

Story Translation:

On a given date (which is) the flying of the geese, the Indians go on trail to meet the white men (and) with the same thought in mind to agree to smoke the pipe of peace and present treaty furs to meet terms of the treaty and wish white man good luck.

Three people standing, looking to the right with paintings in the background.

January 9, 2023

Docents at the Executive Mansion

In 1970, Mrs. Linwood Holton opened the Mansion to docent-led tours, starting a volunteer system that lives on 50 years later. Executive Mansion Head Docent Cathy Pemberton has been guiding tours at Virginia’s home for more than four years. “It’s such a privilege to be able to share this house with visitors from Virginia and all parts of the country, sometimes even from different countries. I love this house: the stories, the furniture, the art and architecture. It's rich with history,” says Pemberton. Interested in becoming an expert in #homehistory? E-mail Cathy at for more information on how to become a docent.