Old Governor's Mansion (Lieutenant Governor's Mansion)
Backstory and Context
Completed in 1798, the Old Governor's Mansion is arguably the nation's oldest official executive residence still in use. However, in addition to a period from 1914 to 1946 when it was vacant, the home has mainly functioned as a meeting space and guest house for visiting dignitaries.
Kentucky became the nation's fifteenth state in 1792, with Frankfort selected as the capital city. In 1794, Kentucky erected its first state capitol building. And then, in 1796, the Kentucky General Assembly appropriated funds to construct a proper home for the state governor. Construction on the historic mansion finished in 1798 and came to be known as "The Palace." The governors also worked in the Old Mansion until 1872, when construction on the Capitol Annex building finished (adjacent to the Old State Capitol). Notable guests to visit the Mansion include Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William Jennings Bryan. From 1798 to 1914, thirty-five governors lived in the house, beginning with Kentucky's second governor: James Garrard.
From 1914 - 1946, the home largely remained vacant and suffered from neglect. Facing almost certain demolition, Governor Simeon Willis saved the building in 1948 by appropriating money to stabilize the structure, followed by a major renovation project in 1956. The renovated mansion transitioned into the home of Kentucky's Lieutenant Governors until 2002, when yet another renovation project commenced. For the last few decades, Lieutenant Governors have chosen to live in their homes and commute to Frankfort rather than live in the mansion. Today, the Old Governor's Mansion primarily serves as a meeting space and guest house for foreign dignitaries.
Regardless of its purpose today, the structure survives as a monument to a time when the Kentucky border once touched France (a few years before the Louisiana Purchase). Indeed, Kentucky became the first state west of the Appalachian Mountains admitted to the Union -- the nation's first "West," which included removal of Native Americans. From those early years through the twenty-first century, the building has remained, mainly serving the state's executive branch and now as a guest house and meeting space.
"Old Governor's Mansion." Historic Properties. KY.gov. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://historicproperties.ky.gov/hp/ogm/Pages/default.aspx.
Parrish, Charles E. "Nomination Form: Old Governor's Mansion." National Register of Historic Places. nps.gov. 1971. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/499376b1-f9a1-4e15-9349-fa11ebbeeff6.
Talbott, Tim. "Frankfort Chosen as Capital," Kentucky Historical Society. . ExploreKYHistory.ky.gov. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/505.
--- --- --- "The Old Mansion." Kentucky Historical Society. ExploreKyHistory.ky.gov. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/226.
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