About the Old Governor’s Mansion
This is the second Governor's Mansion to occupy the site. The first Governor's
Mansion, a large frame house built for Baton Rouge businessman Nathan King
Knox, served as the official residence of Louisiana Governors from 1887
until 1929, when it was razed and the present Old Governor's Mansion was
built. The building cost almost $150,000 to complete, and, at a cost of
$22,000 (a princely sum for the time), the Mansion was furnished with the
finest damask and velvet drapes, crystal chandeliers, hand-printed French
wallpaper, and other fine appointments.
In 1963, a new Mansion was constructed just east of the towering State
Capitol building, and in 1964 the old Mansion became the home of the Louisiana
Arts and Science Center Museum. The Mansion served as headquarters for
the LASC until 1976, when the Museum moved to new quarters in the Old Illinois
Central Train Station. In 1978, the Mansion reopened as a historic house
The Mansion is four stories high, including a basement and an attic.
The East and West Wings of the Mansion look different because the West
has an extra one-story office wing, which house the Foundation’s
offices and the museum’s West Wing Gift Shop. A sun porch on is above
this level on the second floor. The East Wing boasts a beautiful slate
terrace, which is accessible through the East Ballroom.
The front entry to the Mansion is a portico. Four 30-foot-tall columns
span two stories to support a fancy carved pediment featuring the design
of the great seal of the State of Louisiana—a mother pelican feeding
her young. The columns have Corinthian capitals. Steps lead up to the portico,
and the main entry has double doors with a leaded glass fanlight transom
above. Pilasters with Ionic capitals surround the double doors. Wrought
iron grillwork covers small windows on each side of the double doors. On
the second story above the main doors, French doors open onto a small balcony
with a wrought iron banister. The mansion's first story windows have rounded
carved pediments above. The West Wing has eyebrow windows.
The floor plan of the Mansion is very much like the floor plan of 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Both have similar entrance rooms,
East Rooms and State Dining Rooms on their first floors. Both have Oval
rooms on their second floors, as well as East Wing guest bedrooms. Just
inside the front doors is a vestibule with coatrooms. There is a stairway
with a beautiful, large, curving marble staircase with a fancy wrought
iron banister. The floor of the stair hall is black and white checked marble.
The Mansion has undergone at least three renovations. The floor plan
was modified to provide more linkage between public and private areas of
the Mansion in 1937. Air conditioning was added in the 1970’s by
the Louisiana Arts and Science Center for both the comfort of Mansion visitors
as well as for the maintenance of museum collections. The third and most
recent renovation was the major restoration completed in 1999 by the State
of Louisiana, substantially returning the house to its original glory.
Art Deco colors were extensively researched and replicated as close to
the originals as possible. The restored Zuber wallpaper in the State Dining
Room is the same wallpaper used in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in the
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana is proud to work in conjunction
with the State of Louisiana to expose all visitors to preservation in progress
at the Old Governor’s Mansion. Preservation is an ongoing and constant
labor of love.
The Foundation’s mission for the Old Governor’s Mansion is
to preserve maintain, protect, and promote the building, collection, and
historical integrity of the site; to research and interpret, through educational
programs, permanent and changing exhibits, the period from 1930 to 1962,
when the building served as home to Louisiana Governor's; and to increase
appreciation of Louisiana's social, political, and governmental history.