Life in the Mansion

Governor James B. Edwards (1975-1979)

Dr. James B. Edwards became the first Republican Governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction when he won the 1974 gubernatorial election.  Among his many accomplishments as governor, Edwards made significant contributions to improving energy management in the state with the establishment of the South Carolina Energy Research Institute.

Gov. and Mrs. EdwardsWhen James and Ann Edwards moved into the Mansion, their son Jim, Jr. was a student at the University of South Carolina.  The First Family truly felt at home at the Mansion, their daughter Kathy even had her debut while living in the Mansion.  Dr. Edwards noted, “In the summertime, we'd swim in the pool.  Other times of year, we'd just linger around the Mansion.  It was secure and quiet and we enjoyed the Mansion as a place to retreat and get away from it all on those Sundays, particularly."  

The Edwards told a wonderful story about their cat Victoria that reflects the duality of the Mansion as a site to entertain and its function as a true home to the Governor and his family.  A dinner was being held for the Palmetto Visitors Forum and as Mrs. Edwards recalled,"there was a man that worked at the Mansion at that time named Hennigan.  He came running upstairs and he said, "We're in terrible trouble downstairs, Mrs. Edwards.  Terrible trouble."  And I said, "Hennigan, what is the matter?"  Because, Jim wanted everything to go just perfectly.  He said, "Well, you see, the trouble is this.  We're getting ready to serve the fish course, and Victoria is underneath the table."  Victoria was a black cat.  Now he said, "You know, she has put her paw up on the table.  I go down to one end, thinking I can grab her, then she’d go down the middle of the table, down to the other end."  Under the table.  And [he] said, "I've got a butler down on this end and a butler down on that end. . . .  We can't get that cat out from under the table, and the Governor wants to know why we don't serve."

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