The Austin History Center's mission is to procure, preserve, present and provide the historical records that make up Austin's unique story.
The Texas Governor’s Mansion was built in 1854 and has been home to every governor of Texas since then.
The mansion was designed and built by Abner Cook, a self-taught architect, general contractor, and businessman. He also owned the clay pit that produced the bricks for the building and had an interest in the sawmill that supplied the lumber.
The first family to live here were Governor Elisha Marshall Pease, first lady Lucadia Christiana Niles Pease, and their three daughters. The Peases are complex figures in Texas history. Educated Connecticut natives who moved to Texas in search of opportunity, they were caught up in the early stages of the Texas Revolution.
E.M. Pease fought in the Battle of Gonzales, the revolution's first battle. He served many roles in the Republic of Texas and State of Texas governments, including two terms as governor from 1853 to 1857. During that time he settled the debt that the state had carried from the Texas Revolution, convinced the legislature to set aside a fund that would eventually establish public education, and helped create state schools for the blind, deaf, and mentally ill.
When Pease was elected, construction of the Governor’s Mansion was behind schedule, and Charles Abner had to pay to put up the governor in a boarding house. Over time the house was furnished by several governors and their families. Sam Houston, elected governor after Pease, added the huge mahogany bed. Descendants of former governors have also gifted furniture to the mansion, including descendants of the Peases who contributed a sofa.
During Reconstruction, Pease was appointed to a third term as Texas governor by the US Army. This term was not quite as successful for the well-known Union sympathizer who was working with a former-Confederate majority, and he resigned after two years. However, he stayed involved in Texas politics for the rest of his life as an early leader of the Texas Republican Party.
In 2008, while Rick Perry was governor of Texas, he and his family moved out of the house temporarily to allow for a renovation. While it was vacant, the building was severely damaged by a still unknown arsonist. Since then it has been meticulously restored.
Cover photo: David Hollingsworth via Flickr.