In Governors Mansions of the Midwest, Ann Liberman explores the history of twelve prominent mansions in the MidwestIllinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Although most early governors did not live in mansions, staying instead in boarding houses or hotels, over time states recognized the need to provide more appropriate lodging for their chief executives. Housing their governors in a dignified and elegant setting allowed the states to demonstrate their social and economic progress to the rest of the country. These grand dwellings came to stand as symbols of the states permanence and stability.
Most books written about governors mansions focus on the activities of the first families, with little attention given to the history of the mansions themselves. Liberman seeks to remedy this by focusing more on architectural history, from the houses construction, through various alterations made by later occupants, to thorough renovations of recent years. For each, she discusses when the house was built, how much it cost, the architectural style and the architect, and the furnishings and interiors. Liberman notes patterns as they emerge, including the trend of alterations made by first ladies in their desire to put their marks on these residences.
Through these histories, Liberman connects the cultural and architectural past to the present in order to recognize and acknowledge the legacy of each state. While the occupants come and go, governors houses can characterize the cultural, social, and political development of these states. By looking at each mansion, the author shows the significant role each played in the unfolding of the states history.
Libermans text is accompanied by eye-catching color photographs by Alise OBrien that entice readers to visually explore the lavish interior and furnishings as well as the dignified exterior and formal landscapes of each mansion. This book will be of interest to anyone wanting to experience the history borne within the walls of our midwestern governors mansions.