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Home of governors back open for public tours

Home of governors back open for public tours

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In another sign of a return to normalcy, the home of Virginia’s governors for more than 200 years, is reopening for public tours after being closed for more than two years.

The reopening is set for Friday, Sept. 2, when the Executive Mansion (as it is known) adjacent to the Virginia Capitol building will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Going forward, tours will be available on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at what is the oldest purpose-built governor’s residence still in use nationally.

Gov. Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin are slated to welcome visitors for the reopening. “We are hugely humbled to call Virginia’s Historic Executive Mansion home, and we are thrilled to be able to share it with the 8.6 million Virginians we serve,” Suzanne Youngkin said.

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The governor and first lady have worked closely with the mansion’s Citizen Advisory Council and staff to create a welcoming and healthy environment for reopening. Visitors also will enjoy a museum-quality art experience exhibiting artwork from museums across the commonwealth, honoring Virginia artists and geographical regions.

“We have prioritized works by Virginia’s artists, as well as varied and diverse Virginia-centric content, through dynamic art selections and artifacts serving as a living exhibit that will change over time as different parts of Virginia’s story become the focus,” Suzanne Youngkin said.

“The art in the mansion demonstrates the commonwealth’s past, present and future. It showcases the myriad of cultures influencing Virginia’s history – the good and the bad parts of it,” said Betsy Beamer, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council for Interpreting and Furnishing the Mansion.

Contributing museum partners include the Library of Virginia, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and The Valentine in Richmond; Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk; Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke; William King Museum of Art in Abingdon; Fralin Museum of Art in Charlottesville; with more coming online each month. The Executive Mansion also features works of independent Virginia artists.

No reservations are needed to visit the mansion. Additional information is available on the Website at www.executivemansion.virginia.gov.

Designed by architect Alexander Parris in the Federal style, the mansion sits close to the one-time site of a modest frame structure that served as the home to Virginia’s governors after the capital moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780.

Glenn Youngkin is the 57th Virginia governor to reside in the two-story, brick residence since it was completed in March 1813 (James Barbour was the first). According to state officials, the mansion’s original grounds included a separate cookhouse, smokehouse, stable, ice house, carriage and cannon houses. Three buildings remain: the main house, cook house (now used as a guest cottage) and carriage house.

A rear addition was made to the main building in 1906, and a serious fire in 1926 did significant damage to the main-level interior. Despite those changes as well as more than two centuries of use, “the mansion today remains essentially intact” with “a high degree of integrity,” noted the nomination of the building to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.

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