First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe unveils new ornament at the Executive Mansion

virginiaFirst Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, along with leaders of the Virginia Capitol Foundation, unveiled this year’s Official Capitol Square Ornament at the Executive Mansion.

The third ornament in the series features Virginia’s Executive Mansion.  The Official Capitol Square ornament program, established in 2012, celebrates the landmarks of Capitol Square and raises funds to support their preservation and interpretation.  The first two ornaments, from 2012 and 2013, feature the Virginia State Capitol and the Bell Tower, respectively. Proceeds from the ornaments, priced at $23.50 each, benefit the Virginia Capitol Foundation, the nonprofit organization supporting the Capitol, Capitol Square, and Executive Mansion.

All three ornaments are available for sale online at, by phone at (804) 786-1010, and in the Capitol.  The Executive Mansion ornament, along with the Capitol and Bell Tower ornaments, will also be sold at the Museum Stores of Richmond Holiday Shoppers Fair at the Library of Virginia Friday, November 7; 9:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., & Saturday, November 8, 2014; 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the Virginia Historical Society booth.

The Executive Mansion was chosen as the subject of the third ornament in the series because of the importance of the building and its prominence on Capitol Square.  The Virginia Executive Mansion has served as home, office, and center of official entertaining for governors and their families since 1813.  Located on Capitol Square, the Mansion is the oldest governor’s residence in the 50 states still serving its original purpose.  The Mansion is both a Virginia Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

“It is wonderful that the Virginia Capitol Foundation has chosen to feature the Executive Mansion for this year’s holiday ornament,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “This beautiful, historic home is a treasure for all of Virginia.”

Alexander Parris designed the Mansion in the Federal style, an architectural style influenced by English architecture but uniquely American.  The front rooms on the first floor retain their original woodwork, plaster cornices, and ornamental ceiling detail.  An extensive renovation in 1906 by architect Duncan Lee added a large oval dining room.  In 2002, a major restoration of the Mansion was completed under the supervision of Roxanne Gilmore, wife of Governor James Gilmore, which returned historic interiors to their original Federal style.

Several garden spaces surround the Mansion, the most prominent of which is the Gillette Garden, designed in 1954 by noted Richmond landscape architect Charles Gillette.  The Garden Club of Virginia restored the Gillette Garden in 1999, utilizing archival information including Gillette’s own plans and records.

To the south of the Mansion stand several outbuildings, including a two-story structure housing the original 19th century kitchen and slave quarters.  Plans are underway to recreate and interpret the 19th century kitchen to share the stories of the individuals who worked there, including enslaved persons.

Distinguished visitors to the Mansion include Sir Winston Churchill, President Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Margaret Thatcher, Sidney Poitier, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Queen Elizabeth II, and Steven Spielberg, just to name a few.

The Virginia Capitol Foundation is the nonprofit advocate for the Capitol, Capitol Square, and Executive Mansion. It enhances the educational, cultural, and economic potential of Capitol Square’s historic treasures through program development, community engagement, and fundraising.

The Virginia Capitol Foundation Board of Trustees:  Officers – Ric A. Arenstein, Chairman;

Wendy Church Sydnor, Vice Chairman; The Honorable Susan Clarke Schaar, Secretary; Diana J. Beran, Treasurer.  Trustees: The Honorable Sandra D. Bowen, Susan Allen, Samuel W. Daniel, Janet T. Geldzahler, Adrienne G. Hines, Joseph W. Montgomery, The Honorable Brian Moran, The Honorable G. Paul Nardo, Anita O. Poston, The Honorable Nancy Rodrigues, S. Buford Scott, Charles H. Seilheimer, Jr., The Honorable John Charles Thomas

For information about the Virginia Capitol Foundation and the Virginia State Capitol including visitor services, go to


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