Designed by architect Alexander Parris in the Federal style, the Mansion sits close to the site of a modest frame structure that served as the home to Virginia's governors after the capitol moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780. Virginia’s 18th Governor, James Barbour, moved into the newly built residence in 1813 and has been occupied by Virginia’s governors ever since, making the Executive Mansion the oldest continuously occupied Governor’s residence in the United States.
The Mansion's original grounds included a separate cook house, smokehouse, stable, ice house, and carriage and cannon houses. Three of these original buildings remain today including the main house, cook house and the carriage house. The Mansion also includes private living quarters for the First Family.
This executive residence is both a Virginia and a National Historic Landmark, and has had a number of renovations and expansions during the 20th century.
The Mansion has hosted a wide range of dignitaries including His Royal Highness Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; President Rutherford B. Hayes, President Theodore Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, aviator Charles Lindbergh and a number of U.S. Presidents.
The executive residence is located within the historic gates of Capitol Square, a park area that includes the State Capitol, the Bell Tower, Patrick Henry Building, Old City Hall, and several monuments to Virginia history.
The Citizens' Advisory Council on Furnishing and Interpreting the Executive Mansion (CAC) was formed during the administration of the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth, Linwood Holton. Since its founding, members of the CAC have worked with the First Ladies of Virginia to promote a greater understanding and awareness of the history and significance of the Executive Mansion.
Since its construction in 1813, Virginia’s Executive Mansion has experienced a multitude of structural, cosmetic and architectural changes with each governor adding their own touch to Virginia’s home. Sepia toned testaments from the early days of photography through high-definition photos of the Mansion as it stands today, these images document the journey of Virginia’s Executive Mansion as a beloved part of our culture in the capitol of the commonwealth. Photos courtesy of the Valentine.
Gloria Marrero Chambers
Building & Restoration
Anne Geddy Cross
Gayle Jessup White
Furnishings & Collection
Caroline E. Corl
The Art Experience
Flora S. Cardwell
Linda H. Garbee