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Arkansas Governor's Mansion

History


Library The Arkansas Governor's Mansion, located on Center Street in downtown Little Rock, was originally completed in 1950 during the term of Governor Sidney McMath. Until that time, Arkansas had no official residence for her chief executive.

In 1944, the Arkansas Federation of Women's Clubs, led by its president, Mrs. Agnes Bass Shinn of Harrison, began a campaign to remedy this deficiency. The first effort to obtain legislative funding for a Governor's residence, attempted in 1945, was a failure. Success came two years later, when Act 257 of 1947 created a Governor's Mansion Commission with an appropriation of $100,000. The Commission selected the old Blind School property as the site, and in December 1947, Governor Ben T. Laney laid the cornerstone of the new structure. Bricks from the old buildings were salvaged and used in the construction of the Mansion; a total of more than 300,000 bricks were required to complete the project.

Construction lasted approximately two years, and was supplemented by another $97,000, authorized by Act 401 of 1949. Many individuals played key roles in the planning, construction, and completion of the building, including: Clyde E. Lowry, Chairman of the Governor's Mansion Commission; Frank J. Ginocchio Jr. and Edwin B. Cromwell, architects; Barney Ellis, contractor; and William R. Heerwagen, interior decorator.

The Georgian Colonial Mansion is flanked by two colonnaded walkways that link the Mansion to two cottages. Through the colonnades, one can view the gardens that frame the home. The eight-and-one-half acres feature one of the largest herb gardens maintained by the National Herb Society, as well as a vegetable garden, which is an ongoing project of the Arkansas Master Gardeners.

No formal ceremony marked the opening of the Governor's Mansion on January 10, 1950; instead the public was invited to tour the new structure. During the week-long, public "open house," more than 180,000 visitors toured the new home.

Governor and Mrs. Sidney S. McMath began moving into the Governor's Mansion on February 3, 1950. The Governors who have since occupied the Mansion are the following: Francis Cherry; Orval Faubus; Winthrop Rockefeller; Dale Bumpers; David Pryor; Frank White; Bill Clinton; Jim Guy Tucker; Mike Huckabee; and our current Governor, Mike Beebe.

For more information on the Arkansas Governor's Mansion visit:

Encyclopedia of Arkansas