Thursday, September 12, 2013

Texas Governor's Mansion Tour

This morning, Daphne and I walked 11 blocks from The Nuthaus to The Governor's Mansion. They're practically clones, wouldn't you say?

No? Well, no. Not exactly. The Texas Governor's Mansion has been home to 40 of Texas' governors, and apparently was not gated until an arsonist set fire to the mansion a couple of years ago. It is right across the street from the Capitol, and the upper floor is where the private residence is for the first family of Texas. Thus, the tour only includes what the docent called "the grounds" (the front lawn) and the bottom floor.

6 Ionic columns and deep wrap-around porches. The home has been continually occupied since 1856, after it had been built for the princely sum of $14,500, and designed in the Greek Revival style by Abner Cook.

As was the style for most bigger homes of that day, the bottom floor was 4 rooms separated by a long hall down the middle.

The first room to the left of the entry is the library.

Umm. Books? Oh well. I guess you bring your own. Anyhoo... The couch is one of the very few items in the house that are original to the governor's mansion. For the longest time, the house itself was unfurnished, and governors had to bring their own furniture, silverware, and plates.

After the Friends of the Governor's Mansion was developed in the late 70s, 19th-Century furniture was permanently added and stays with the home regardless of the occupants. At some point, also, one of the First Ladies of Texas brought and left fancy place settings and silverware, so that has become a tradition. Each governor's family has engraved silverware and china that they leave with the house.

Don't know whether this is an old mirror or just a replica, but I liked it.

The parlor, the first room to the right of the entry. At one point in the home's history, the plaster molding was added to the ceiling to make it more impressive-looking.

The front windows and writing desk in the parlor. The morning sun was unadulterated.

A pair of these mirrors flank the front door.

I don't remember what this room is called, but I'll call it a sitting room, since there are so many places to sit. I believe that the docent indicated that permanent, adequate air conditioning wasn't added until fairly recently, and maybe even since the fire a couple of years ago.

One cannot simply walk upstairs in the Texas Governor's Mansion. Like, seriously. There was a State Trooper standing at the bottom of the stairwell just to make sure no one tried to dart up there. I don't think anyone was home, anyway. Daphne said she wouldn't like living on the top floor of a home where people were constantly downstairs during the day. I think it'd be cool to mess with tours and get tourists in trouble. Just a little bit of trouble.

This is the formal dining room. The table is out for cleaning. I'm thinking, in the meantime, roller disco.

The rug in the back hallway.

This is the family's dining room. It's supposed to be informal. I covet the writing desk here, too, but can't imagine where I'd put it in my own home.

This rug is very cool. It's on the floor of the conservatory, to which I just referred to as the informal family dining room because that's what the docent called it, but that's not what it says online. Speaking of which, if you ask about this sweet six flags rug, the docent will not be able to tell you anything about it. It's not even in the guidebook to which they can refer in a bind (it's actually a binder, so I kind of just made a pun, but you'd have had to be there to get that; trust me when I say that I'm dead clever).

Unfortunately, there's no cool history to the rug. Apparently, according to page 3 of this newsletter, it was just added after the fire. I'd still like to know who made it. I might want a little one for our own dining room, if we ever decide to spend what we'd spend on a used car for a rug.

Here's a wide shot of the family dining room/conservatory. The rug's detail all but disappears at a distance.

Methinks they have a pool, but we weren't allowed to go back there. There were dogs, too. They wanted to come inside.

The Texas flag on the other side of the porch, as we were kindly escorted from the premises.

Would you get a load of this great tree? It's huge! Look at the tiny people waiting for the next tour.

I'm guessing that they release the hounds to the front yard after visiting hours.

On the way home, we again passed the Capitol, which I cannot do without snapping a picture.

1) You have to sign up at least a week in advance so they can run a background check. Go here for information about dates, times, and whom to e-mail a reservation request.
2) The paperwork you will get says that you are to be there for check-in fifteen minutes before your tour. It's five minutes. If you get there 15 minutes early, they will act like you're getting on their nerves, and turn you away.
3) The paperwork tells you this, but I'll ultra-tell you: You can't take a bag. Not a purse. Nothing. I kind of tested this by toting a passport wallet thing, but I didn't have a pocket, and you have to present your ID, plus I needed my keys. Be aware that if you do this, the security guys will eye you suspiciously. Just look at them and dare them to give you any guff about it. Yes, I said "guff."
4) As long as you're in the area, you might as well visit Texas Chili Parlor (and stop in to Lone Star Legacies to giggle at how much money people will pay for stuff that has "Texas" on it).

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