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#HomeHistory 2022 Archive

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. Check out our current and 2023 posts!

A man sits behind a piano with a painting in the background.

December 27, 2022

A history of music at the Mansion

In #homehistory, Governor Byrd started a longstanding tradition of incorporating music into the Executive Mansion by selling the state limousine that was provided for him in order to buy the Steinway piano that is still in the ballroom today. We are incredibly blessed to have enjoyed so much music in the Mansion this past holiday season, provided by the choir at Eastern View High School, two ensembles from Fork Union Military Academy, a quartet from Maggie Walker Governor’s School, acoustic guitarist Jamie Rust and seasoned pianists David Esleck and Bob Smith.

A gingerbread house decorated to look like a farmhouse.

December 23, 2022

The Executive Mansion Gingerbread House

The decades-long, #homehistory tradition of a gingerbread house at the Executive Mansion during the holidays continues even today. In a nod to ‘A Virginia Harvest Holiday’, pastry chef Scott Henderlite created a gingerbread farmhouse featuring aspects of the Commonwealth’s impressive agricultural bounty — an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and beehive as well as tobacco plants, tomatoes, and grape vines. Visit our 2022 holiday archive and view more images of the gingerbread farmhouse. 

First Lady Suzanne Youngkin, a woman and a man wearing a yarmulke stand in front of a menorah.

December 20, 2022

Celebrating the contributions of Jewish Americans

The Executive Mansion celebrated the second night of Hanukkah with friends and faith leaders from throughout the Commonwealth. Jewish Americans have contributed mightily to our nation’s strength, freedom, culture and fine arts. One such Virginian, Dina Lee Steiner, is a late Jewish artist whose painting, Springtime, depicts a scene in Richmond’s own Byrd Park and became part of #homehistory in the Art Experience at the Executive Mansion. 

Dina Steiner was a Richmond native and attended Richmond Professional Institute, one of the institutions that evolved into Virginia Commonwealth University, to study fine art. She continued her education at the National Academy of Fine Arts in New York and at the Shuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore. Click here to view the Art Experience tab and Springtime, located on the interactive map. 

Christmas tree with ornaments.

December 17, 2022

The Old Governor's Office Christmas tree honors Gold Star families

The Virginia-grown tree in the Old Governor’s Office was decorated by Wreaths across America and T.A.P.S — Virginia-based organizations that work to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country and support their loved ones left behind. The ornaments on this tree feature fallen American heroes that we pay homage to as a part of #homehistory. The Executive Mansion felt privileged to host Virginia’s military leaders, Gold Star families and leadership from T.A.P.S and Wreaths across America at Virginia’s home this holiday season.

First Lady Suzanne Youngkin bends down to greet a young girl as her mother smiles.

December 8, 2022

Welcoming the families of Virginia National Guard members

First families have long welcomed members of the Virginia National Guard to enjoy the Executive Mansion over the holidays, a valued aspect of our #homehistory. The Executive Mansion had the opportunity to welcome some of these families into Virginia’s home this holiday season.

While many call the holiday season ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, it can also be the hardest, especially for the families of those brave souls that are deployed overseas and abroad serving our country. A special thank you to Fork Union Military Academy’s amazing band, directed by John Warren, for filling the Mansion with music!

Governor Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin stand behing a podium in front of a large Christmas tree with multicolored lights.

December 3, 2022

The annual Capitol Square Christmas tree lighting

There’s no place like Virginia’s home for the holidays! A decades old tradition, the annual Virginia Capitol Square Christmas tree lighting and Executive Mansion open house kicks off the holiday season in the Commonwealth and is a longstanding part of #homehistory. 2022’s Harvest Holiday theme celebrates Virginia’s agrarian roots and today’s robust agribusiness. To take an in-depth look at 2022’s decorations, head over to our holiday archive tab!

Young African American man in an army uniform posing for a selfie.

November 11, 2022

Martin Townes and celebrating Virginia's Veterans

This Veteran’s Day, The Executive Mansion salutes those who have proudly served in the U.S. Armed Forces. We honor Martin Charles Townes, the Mansion’s esteemed Deputy Butler of 4 years. Martin spent 6 years in the Virginia Army National Guard working as a combat engineer dealing with landmines, explosives and a specialty bridge known as Bailey Bridges. He was on active duty at Fort Lee and worked with the military police as a member of the base security force. The Townes family is a key facet of #homehistory, serving Virginia governors for three generations.

Stylized portrait of Chief Walter Bradby, wearing traditional clothing in front of a textured blue background.

November 3, 2022

'Chief Bradby' by artist Ethan Brown

The honorable Chief Walter Bradby and his committed leadership to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe of Virginia is revered by the Executive Mansion. On display as part of the Art Experience, this eye-catching portrait reminds us of the remarkable resilience of American Indians throughout our country and Commonwealth, true makers of #homehistory. Chief Bradby's portrait is on loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and was painted by Ethan Brown, artist, current member of the Pamunkey Tribe and a descendant of the Chief.

Photo of artist Pierre Daura's painting, featuring whimsical and colorful depictions of the process of winemaking.

October 20, 2022

Pierre Daura's 'Grape Pressing'

During Virginia Wine Month and Arts and Humanities Month, we toast the 300+ wineries and vineyards that strengthen our Commonwealth’s agricultural and tourism sectors through the Art Experience at the Executive Mansion. Grape Pressing is famous Virginia artist Pierre Daura’s nod to winemaking. 

Daura was a Catalan artist who was raised in Barcelona. While studying art in Paris, Daura met his future wife, Louise Blair of Richmond. In 1939 the couple established a permanent residence in Lexington, Virginia. Daura served as the Chairman of the Art Department at Lynchburg College and taught studio art at Randolph Macon College. We celebrate his artistry and legacy in #homehistory.

#homehistory Sandra Cornejo

September 23, 2022

Artist Sandra Cornejo’s Portrait of her Sister

Hanging proudly in the Ladies’ Parlor, artist and first generation Salvadorian-American Sandra Cornejo’s striking portrait of her sister is a colorful reminder that #homehistory is constantly being made at the Executive Mansion of Virginia. 

Cornejo earned her BFA from VCU in 2009 and was awarded the Evelia Gonzalez Porto Latino Art in Virginia Fellowship in 2012, for which she created this portrait.

Cornejo's work can be seen as part of the 2022 Art Experience at the Executive Mansion, a living exhibit featuring artwork and artifacts that encapsulate the spirit of Virginia in its entirety, representing its past, its present, its landscape and its people.

Bronze statue of the nymph Daphne.

September 16, 2022

The Gillette Garden

A glimpse into #homehistory here at Virginia’s Executive Mansion: Originally used for livestock, the formal Gillette Garden at the Executive Mansion was designed by known Richmond landscape architect Charles Gillette in 1954 and constructed in April of 1956, just in time to open for Historic Garden Week. Gillette’s design style can be recognized by his emphasis on symmetry within the spaces he worked with.

Relying heavily on Gillette’s plans, records and newspaper photos from the original opening, the Garden Club of Virginia worked alongside a contracted landscape service to restore the space in 1999. Lush with English boxwood, Virginia Cedar, azalea, camellia, Crape Myrtle trees and daffodils, the Gillette Garden showcases the natural beauty of our Commonwealth. Other gardens designed by Gillette include those at Agecroft Hall, the Virginia House and the grounds at the University of Richmond.

On loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the statue in the Gillette Garden was created in 1933 by sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. This bronze statue depicts the nymph Daphne, a minor figure in Greek mythology known for her affinity to fountains, wells, and other bodies of water.

Meet the Mansion Director Georgia Esposito

September 1, 2022

Meet the Mansion Director

Georgia Esposito, made #homehistory as the first two-time director of Virginia’s Executive Mansion in the past 50 years, returning in 2022 to serve yet another first family! Georgia is a Virginia native and has worked in various capacities with the Commonwealth for more than 20 years. Learn more about Georgia’s work, the history of the Mansion and what to expect when visiting the Mansion starting Friday, Sept. 2!