Executive Mansion is one of the finest examples of Victorian Queen
Anne architecture in North Carolina. The steeply pitched roofs,
cupola, richly colored textural surfaces, porches and pavilions,
projecting patterned chimneys and elaborate mass-produced turned
porch woodwork characterize this architectural style. In 1883, noted
architects Samuel Sloan and A.G. Bauer designed the residence with
spacious halls and reception rooms, massive stairway and 16-foot
ceilings, which reflect its official purposes.
The mansion is the fourth official governor's residence. The first, Tryon Palace, was completed in New Bern in 1770. This palatial brick Georgian-style residence was designed by English architect John Hawkes. It housed North Carolina's last two royal governors and early elected governors. The palace was the seat of government until 1792 when Raleigh was named the new capital city. There, a two-story frame structure--complete with outbuildings located at the corner of Fayetteville and Hargett streets--was selected in 1797 as the second official residence.
The third state residence, the "Governor's Palace," was completed in 1816 by Boston builder James Calder. Located at the foot of Fayetteville Street, site of Memorial Auditorium, this two-story brick structure was the official residence of 20 governors from 1816 to 1865. When Raleigh was occupied by Union forces during the Civil War, the Governor's Palace served as headquarters for General W. T. Sherman and then for the North Carolina military commandant, resulting in destruction which left the house unfit for residency. For years following the war, North Carolina's governors lived in rented houses or respected hostelries.
In 1883, with aggressive lobbying of Governor Thomas J. Jarvis, the General Assembly authorized construction of the present Governor's residence on Burke Square (one of five public squares in downtown Raleigh, a short distance from the Capitol on Union Square). Colonel William J. Hicks, warden of the state penitentiary, supervised the construction using prison labor and native products such as clay, sandstone and timber. Through eight years of construction, there were constant struggles to find money and win approval from legislators and citizens to be able to finish this building. The first occupants, Governor Daniel G. Fowle and his family, moved into the unfinished building in January 1891 and resided there until the governor's death in April of that same year.
Since its initial construction in 1882, few major changes have been made to the building's exterior. Porches on the north and east sides have been enclosed to expand kitchen and security facilities.
A Neoclassical makeover was undertaken during the McLean administration (1925-1929). Many Victorian features were changed or removed, including painting of woodwork; removal of stained glass, balustrades, overmantel mirrors and whatnot shelving; and replacement of columns and pilasters.
During her tenure as first lady (1965-1969), Jeanelle C. Moore began a campaign for public awareness of the mansion's historic and cultural significance. Her dedication resulted in the formation of the Executive Mansion Fine Arts Committee, as statutory committee which advises and supports the acquisition of gifts, purchases, maintenance and preservation. In 1970, the mansion was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1974-75, the mansion underwent a major renovation which included the plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electrical systems. These interior and exterior rehabilitation projects were crucial to the preservation and continued use of the building.
In 1988, formation of the Executive Mansion Fund Inc., a non-profit corporation, provided further support for restoration and preservation. The fund is charged with soliciting grants, donations, bequests and other contributions and with investing and managing these funds. Its successful Second Century campaign resulted in the establishment of a $2 million endowment. The Executive Mansion Fund Inc. has established a membership organization--the Friends of the Executive Mansion, a group of concerned individual and corporate citizens who wish to support the Executive Mansion through their annual contributions.