The head honcho of the country isn’t hard to find, at least in theory. Everyone knows that the man in charge lives in Washington, DC, on Pennsylvania Avenue, in a very large, very white house. But where does the man in charge of Texas live. He’s certainly not in DC, as that would contradict his position. In fact, it would be most logical if he was in Austin, the capital of the state, and indeed he is. He is located at the Texas Governor’s Mansion at 1010 Colorado Street.
The Governor’s Mansion has housed every Texas governor since Governor Pease first moved in, in 1856. Built in 1854 by Abner Cook, the building was designed in the then-popular Greek Revival style. The columns and unique details of the house are made with Austin bricks and pine log pillars from Bastrop County.
Located on Colorado Street it is southwest of the State Capitol and not far from the Capitol Visitors Center, as well as Congress Avenue. Normally visitors are able to tour the mansion from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday, provided they make reservations in advance. The tours leave every 20 minutes and last for the same amount of time, with the final tour beginning at 11:40 a.m. Due to the popularity of the tours, it is recommended that visitors plan well in advance calling 512-463-5518 to make reservations. However, at this time that is not necessary, as right now, the Texas Governor’s Mansion is closed for renovations.
On June 8, 2008, fire ripped through the Governor’s Mansion. The building had already been closed for renovation and many of the valuable artifacts within it had been removed previously, but the flames caused considerable damage nonetheless. Much of the white paint used to cover the Austin bricks was burned off and the 29-foot columns at the front of the house were charred black. It took the efforts of nearly 100 firefighters to stop the fire, which may have been started on purpose. Fortunately no one was hurt – Governor Perry and his wife were not in the city on that day and all rescue workers completed their job safely.
The mansion is now closed for further renovation and expected to reopen in 2009. Until that time, would-be visitors will have to content themselves with a look from the outside, as workers toil away trying to repair the heavy damage. When it reopens, it is hoped that the building will hold the same majesty it once did, and even the same ghosts, for it is rumored that Sam Houston and the ghost of a former governor’s nephew, who committed suicide in the building haunt the mansion. Whether they were displaced by the fire or merely aggravated has yet to be seen, as they have yet to be seen. But once the building has live habitants yet again, it can only be assumed that the dead ones will return, as well.
If you are in Austin, stop by the Texas Governor’s Mansion (or for now, the grounds surrounding it) and see the White House of Texas.