Texas Governor's Mansion: A Timeline

As Gov. Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry prepare to move back into the Governor’s Mansion years after an arsonist nearly destroyed it, take a look back at the building’s 156-year history — from its more mischievous residents to its modern day appliances.

 

 

 

 

1854: A Suitable Residence

 

Abner Cook, a self-taught Texas architect and general contractor responsible for the design of several historic and notable buildings in Texas.

The Legislature appropriates $14,500 for construction of a "suitable residence" for the governor. The contract is awarded to Austin master builder Abner Cook, who adapted the popular Greek Revival style of architecture to the frontier.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1856: Construction of the Mansion Complete

 

Elisha Marshal Pease, the 5th and 13th governor of Texas.

Texas' fifth governor, Elisha Marshall Pease (in office from 1853-1857), moves into the mansion with his family. Obtaining appropriate furnishings prove difficult and costly. The Legislature's $2,500 appropriation proves inadequate, so the Peases have to use their own furniture. Some of the bedrooms remain unfurnished.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1860: Sam Houston's Bed

 

Sam Houston's bed at the Texas Governor's Mansion in 1982.

Sam Houston (governor from 1859-1861) orders a massive mahogany four-poster bed to accommodate his wide frame. It cost $30 at the time and is now located in the southeast bedroom.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1871: Davis Gets a Toilet

 

Edmund J. Davis served for one term, from 1869 to 1873. He was the 14th Texas governor.

The Edmund J. Davis administration installs the first indoor toilet in the mansion. Davis (in office 1870-1874) supported Houston in his stand against secession and, like Houston, refused to take an oath to the Confederacy. In 1862, he left Texas to avoid conscription into the Confederate Army and organized a Union cavalry regiment. He became governor in 1869, with one of the most controversial gubernatorial elections in Texas history: Davis, a Republican, was a favorite of the military, and troops stationed at the polls prevented many Democrats from voting.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1882: Running Water

 

Oran M. Roberts, a member of the Democratic Party, was the 17th governor of Texas.

Gov. Oran M. Roberts’ administration installs running water in the mansion. Unlike Houston and Davis before him, Roberts (in office 1879-1883) supported the pro-Confederate faction and fought briefly for the Confederate Army. In 1883, the University of Texas opened in Austin, where he taught law after his term ended.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1883: Ireland's Phone

 

During John Ireland's term as governor, the University of Texas was established, and construction on the Texas State Capitol began.

Gov. John Ireland’s administration installs the first telephone in the mansion. Ireland (in office 1883-1887) also refused to sign a contract to rebuild the state Capitol unless it would be made of native Texas stone. Construction began in 1885, while Ireland was governor.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1891: A Hogg in the Mansion

 

James Stephen "Big Jim" Hogg was the 20th governor of Texas and the first to be born in the state.

James Stephen Hogg (in office from 1891-1895) was Texas’ first native-born governor. Hogg’s four children liked to slide down the sweeping stair rail, but after Hogg’s youngest son fell off, Hogg hammered tacks down the banister and ended the fun. Visitors can still see the filled nail holes.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1900: Let There Be Light

 

During Joesph D. Sayers's term, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 demolished that city.

Electricity is installed in the mansion under Gov. Joseph D. Sayers (in office from 1899-1903). In 1901 the newly decorated mansion received Texas’ first presidential visitor, William McKinley. Anger over the Civil War still ran high in Texas. Sayers, a Confederate veteran, and McKinley, a former Union officer, set an example of reconciliation with a state dinner in the mansion’s dining room.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1914: Colquitt Lays It Out

 

Gov. Oscar Colquitt 

With repairs and additions to the mansion during Gov. Oscar Colquitt’s term (1911-1915), the mansion’s basic floor plan came to resemble the mansion’s current layout.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1925: "Me for Ma"

 

Gov. "Ma" Ferguson was elected with the help and support of her campaign manager, Homer T. Brannon, of Ft. Worth.

Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson is elected the first female governor of Texas.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1938: Popular Pappy

 

Gov. "Pappy" O'Daniel was also a songwriter, who composed "Beautiful Texas."

Popular for his country music radio show, W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel wins the gubernatorial election by a landslide in 1938. Less than qualified for the governorship, he proves to be a disappointment as a leader but remains popular through his radio show.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1952: No More "Shivers"

 

Gov. Allan Shivers is the only lieutenant governor in Texas history  to enter the governor's office after the death of his predecessor.

Central heating and air conditioning are installed during Gov. Allan Shivers’ term (1949-1957). Shivers also brought the first television set to the mansion two years later. Before his election as governor in 1946, Shivers fought in World War II, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Shivers served as governor for more than seven years, making him Texas’ longest-serving governor until Gov. Rick Perry broke that record. Shivers is most famous for his insistence that state, rather than federal, authority extended over off-shore drilling operations in Texas, known as the “Tidelands” issue. He broke with the Democratic Party over the matter and supported Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. Accused of disloyalty to the Democratic Party, he lost popularity in his last years as governor — and wasn’t helped by his opposition to Brown v. Board of Education, which legally ended segregation.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1963: Connally Wounded

 

There was some talk of Gov. John Connally being selected as Hubert Humphrey's running mate in 1968, but the liberal Sen. Edmund Muskie, of Maine, was chosen.

On Nov. 22, Gov. John Connally (in office 1963-1969) and President John F. Kennedy are shot while traveling through Dallas in a presidential motorcade. Connally recuperates from the wounds in the Governor’s Mansion. Connally fought in the Pacific Theater in WWII. In April 1945, aboard the U.S.S. Essex, he endured 52 consecutive hours of Japanese kamikaze attacks.

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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1979: Little Help from Some Friends

 

The Legislature appropriates $1 million for a complete structural restoration, and the Friends of the Governor's Mansion, a nonprofit organization, raises an additional $3 million in private donations to refurbish the interior. Repairs are completed in 1982.

Photo courtesy of Austin Postcards

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1991: Ann and the Queen

 

Gov. Ann Richards first came to national attention when, as the state treasurer of Texas, she delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

Ann Richards, the second female governor of Texas, receives Queen Elizabeth II in the Governor’s Mansion. 

Photo courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission

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2007: Mansion Maintenance

 

The mansion is closed for an extensive maintenance project, and numerous antiques are removed and put in storage.

Photo courtesy J. Stephen Conn

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2008: Arson

 

Current Gov. Rick Perry and his wife Anita Perry were in Europe at the time of the fire.

The mansion nearly goes up in smoke when an unknown arsonist tosses a Molotov cocktail on the front porch. Though the roof and front windows are destroyed during the blaze, most of the building — including the elaborate ceiling cornices and pine wood subflooring — survive. The Legislature appropriates $21.5 million for the mansion restoration, and private donors chip in another $3.5 million.

Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor

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2011: Mansion Restoration

 

Restoration of the mansion nears completion and members of the press are allowed in to see the progress.

Photo by Todd Wiseman, The Texas Tribune

 

 

2012: Return of the Perrys

 

First Lady Anita Perry gives a tour of the Governor's Mansion in on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.

Perry and his wife are preparing to move back into the Governor’s Mansion in 2012.

Pool photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez, American-Statesman

 

 

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