Governor’s Mansion celebrates bicentennial

Guests at Saturday's 200th birthday celebration at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond congregate around an executive-mansion-shaped cake by Tony Townes. Photo via VCU CNS.
Guests at Saturday’s 200th birthday celebration at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond congregate around an executive-mansion-shaped cake by Tony Townes. Photo via VCU CNS.

By Kristen Smith
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The oldest occupied governor’s residence in the United States opened an archaeological exhibit to mark its 200th anniversary.

Virginia’s Executive Mansion and the state Department of Historic Resources worked together to create “Unearthing the Bicentennial: An Archaeological Exhibit in Honor of the Mansion’s 200th Anniversary.”

“Virginia is steeped in rich history, and we hope that this exhibit and all of the activities surrounding the bicentennial celebrations will highlight the incredible role our commonwealth has played as the cradle of democracy,” first lady Maureen McDonnell said in a press release last week.

The display features teacups, plate fragments, bottles and tumblers found by workers rebuilding a guard station at the mansion in December 1997. Workers found more than 1,000 artifacts.

Artifacts found during the excavation date to the 1800s. The Department of History Resources’ curation facility cleaned and preserved the items over a period of months.

The exhibit at the Virginia Executive Mansion will be open to the public through July. Free tours will be available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Mansion info

For more information about the Executive Mansion or to schedule a tour, visit executivemansion.virginia.gov.

The Virginia Executive Mansion’s bicentennial celebration and opening of the archaeological exhibit kicked off Saturday with a family-friendly public event featuring food and music. More than 1,500 people attended the event, which was held at the Library of Virginia after a forecast of inclement weather.

George Dennehy, who recently opened for the Goo Goo Dolls, made a special appearance to sing a cover of “I Won’t Give Up,” the hit by singer-songwriter Jason Mraz of Mechanicsville.

Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell also presented the documentary premiere of “First House.” The documentary, produced by Emmy Award-winning Blue Ridge Public Broadcasting Service, gives a behind-the-scenes look at life inside the mansion over the past 200 years.

Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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