During the early days of Wyoming’s statehood, Cheyenne’s affluent cattle barons built a series of mansions as a testament to their wealth and success; houses that might be referred to as “trophy homes,” today.
In 1904, 14 years after achieving statehood in 1890, Wyoming built its first governor’s mansion, a modest house compared to the pretentious dwellings built in other parts of downtown Cheyenne. The Governor’s mansion was anything but extravagant, and is located just five blocks from the State Capitol in what was, at the time, a middle class neighborhood.
The Colonial Revival Governor’s “mansion” designed by architect Charles Murdock of Omaha, was never intended to be a show place. Although stately, it was intended to be a comfortable, gracious residence that the people of Wyoming provided their governors and first families.
The two-and-a-half story house with full basement and separate carriage house was completed at a cost of $33,253.29; including the cost of the lot ($3,000), landscaping ($2,036) and all the original furnishings. Modern in most respects, the house was equipped with central plumbing, hot water heat and combination gas and electrical fixtures throughout.
From 1905 to 1976, the mansion was the residence of 19 Wyoming first families. Governors, First Ladies, their children and pets lived and entertained in the home over the course of 71 years. From the First Family to live in the house with their five children, to the nation’s First Female Governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, the home has been host to family dinners, formal state events and dignitaries from around the country.
Embracing the laid-back Wyoming way of life, the mansion has never been enclosed by a fence and never had on-site security.
In October 1976, then Gov. Ed Herschler moved from what is now called the Historic Governors’ Mansion to the new Governor’s Residence located near Frontier Park. In July 1977, the mansion opened to the public as a historic house museum, embracing the lives and stories of the many people who visited and resided in the home.
To the residents of Wyoming, the Historic Governors’ Mansion is truly the People’s House.