Present Executive Mansion
Present Executive Mansion -1871 Date: 1986
Missouri’s Executive mansion -- celebrating its 120th birthday in 1991 -- stands on a high bluff, overlooking the Missouri River as a 20th century symbol of the seat of government and the home of the state’s executive families. There were other structures in St. Louis and St. Charles which house the governor, but no building has served as long or as graciously as the Mansion with the Mansard roof.
The three-story, red-brick structure was built in 1871 in the Renaissance Revival style with Italianate and French influences. It replaced an earlier executive residence which occupied the same site but was situated farther south on the lot. Temporary quarters for the governor were provided in the first state capitol built after Jefferson City was selected in 1821 as the permanent seat of government for the new state. The first capitol which later burned was located precisely where the Mansion now stands, facing the river which then was a major means of transportation.
State records show that the original appropriation for construction was $52,500 and a final cost of $74,960 which included some furnishings. Plans submitted by George Ingham Barnett, a St. Louis architect, detailed a building 66 feet six inches square with a stone basement and two more stories under the sloping roof named for the French architect, Francois Mansart. The portico and the front features columns of pink granite quarried from the Iron County mines of the then Governor B. Gratz Brown whose family was the first to occupy the Mansion. Gray Napoleon marble fireplaces are located in rooms on the first two floors. A graceful stairway with a railing carved of Missouri black walnut winds upward from the first floor foyer, originally uncluttered by visible supports but later attached to the wall. Carved walnut doors weighing early one ton each are still in place at the Mansion entrance.
Many of Missouri’s residents and visitors from other states and nations are able to view the mansion during public hours scheduled every week. They are provided guided tours of the double reception parlor, library and dining room located just as they were more than a century ago and decorated with period furnishings. Above the first floor are private living quarters which originally included seven bedrooms on the second floor and additional bedrooms and a large ballroom on the third floor.
Recognized as one of the most outstanding for its architecture and certainly one of the oldest in continuous use, the Missouri Mansion, except for a kitchen addition on the south side, has changed but little over the years. Its guest lists have included notables from executive offices in Washington, D. C., as well as dignitaries from other nations. The Grand Duke Alexis of Russia was guest of honor at the first formal function held in the Mansion on January 23, 1872.
Excerpts from First Ladies of Missouri by Jerena East Giffen
Missouri Mansion Preservation, Inc. was organized in 1974 to assist the State of Missouri in restoring the Executive Mansion. Through its efforts, the home’s interior boasts rich Victorian colors, ceilings with elaborate stenciling and a handsome collection of furniture in the Renaissance Revival style. A statewicde organization, MMPI has a board of directors, with former governors and first ladies as honorary members. MMPI provides an important oversight function as well as private funds for period furnishings, works of art and educational programs. Its fine arts committee, which is composed of recognized experts in the fields of art history and restoration, provides valuable and helpful advice about restoration and acquisitions donated or purchased.