Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Governor's Mansion Holiday Tour

I've seen the Texas Governor's Mansion in Austin from outside the fence many times since it was close to where my grandparents lived.  But I'd never been inside until last week when my friend Melody invited Neal and me along on a holiday tour of the "Mansion".

Built in 1856, it's the oldest continuously occupied executive residence west of the Mississippi.

This year it's been warm enough to keep Poinsettias displayed outside.

What better time to see a stunning Greek Revival home than when it's all decorated for Christmas?  A significant renovation was undertaken after an arsonist set fire to the building in 2008.  Fortunately, the residence was unoccupied at the time and art and furnishings were in storage due to a maintenance project.

Looking gorgeous now.

Bright color surrounds the front door.

We were here with a group of 20  to tour the downstairs public spaces.  The Governor and family live upstairs.  

Just inside the front door hangs this famous painting "Crockett's Last Stand".  The guide told us it was inexplicably lost for a few years in the 1930s even though it was in all our Texas history schoolbooks.

The legislature in 1856 approved $15,000 for furnishings which didn't go very far way out here on the frontier.  Over the years Governors and generous donors have furnished the public rooms in beautiful style.

Colorful orange and gold decorations in the front parlor complement green walls.

Virgin of Guadalupe ornaments show the influence of Texas First Lady and San Antonio native Cecelia Abbott.

While we did not meet Governor Abbott on this visit, we did meet him when he visited the Warrior and Family Support Center and gardens where Melody and I volunteer each week.

The furniture is exquisite throughout.

Across the hall are two formal rooms decorated for the holidays.

Front porch swing typical of Texas casual style.

We like stars in Texas and they're a natural for Christmas decorations.

Among the generous donors of furnishings was Ima Hogg, a well-known antique collector and former resident when her father was governor of Texas from 1890 to 1895.  "Miss Ima", as she was known most of her life, also acquired furniture for the White House.  I see the connection in these rooms.

More of the stunning American Empire furnishings

Sparkly chandeliers add to the ambiance.

Typical for this part of Texas, the tree is the only real greenery.  It's just impossible to keep real evergreen garlands fresh in warm temperatures and bright sunlight.

Stars and Texas flags complete the theme.

Memories from past governors.

Across the hall to the main dining room which was set up for a reception that evening.  Melody taking photos.

Wonderful photo op--matching fireplaces and garland on each end of the room.

My favorite room was the conservatory which is also used as a family dining room.

Mrs. Abbott requested fun and colorful San Antonio style decorations in this room.  Bright papel picado garlands and crepe paper flowers crown the cabinet in a perfect match for the sunlight filled room.

A beribboned paper flower crown for the corner tree.

Each of our 41 governors have given a memento to be displayed in cabinets throughout the first floor.

Our fellow tour goers reflecting on memories of Governors past.

Flags of six nations have flown over Texas as depicted in the carpet.

A creche graces the main hall.

I didn't think to ask if luminarias are a tradition or new with Mrs. Abbott's addition of San Antonio style.

The Mansion is just across the street from the southwest corner of the Texas State Capitol grounds with a great view of the pink dome.

We pause for last look over the gate.

Texas Governors have been welcoming visitors since the Mansion opened in 1856.  Guided tours are held year round though I think the addition of Christmas decorations makes it an extra special time to visit.

Tours have concluded for 2015, but you can check the website for more information and future tour dates.


  1. Shirley, I've never taken a tour of the Governor's Mansion, so I especially enjoyed your pics of it all decorated for the holidays. It's funny to think that you were in Austin recently to see Xmas decor, while I was in San Antonio for the same thing.

    1. I think it was the same day. We're always looking for new adventures aren't we?

  2. Shirley, SO glad you took such wonderful photos of our tour! I missed seeing a lot of details like the beautiful moldings and details of the furniture. It was truly a treat to see (my first time too Pam!). It was worth the advanced security screening!

  3. I've never been on a tour of the mansion, either.
    Very nice to see it all decorated.


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