Originally built in 1855 to accommodate officers of Arsenal Military Academy, the historic structure (which had survived the burning of Columbia in the Civil War) was recommended in 1868 by Governor James L. Orr to be the official residence for the state's governors. The Governor's Mansion Complex, which includes the Mansion, Lace House, Caldwell-Boylston house and gardens, has been home to many First Families who were instrumental in its restoration and protection.
For the past 132 years, the Governor's Mansion has had numerous renovations to help accommodate the First Families. It was evident that more space was needed when Governor Ernest F. Hollings moved in with his family in 1959. Two upstairs bedrooms were transformed into a nursery and a playroom while a Family Dining Room and guest wing were added downstairs. The most extensive renovations done to the home were completed in 2001. Under the Governor's Mansion Commission, which was created in 1966 "to promote and cultivate the embellishment and ornamentation of the Governor's Mansion through the acquisition by loan or gift of articles of historical significance," the executive mansion is now filled with southern elegance.
Paintings and antique furniture, made possible with a program initiated by Mrs. Robert E. McNair, provide a glimpse into the past for thousands of school children and tourists who visit the Mansion. A 66-piece Silver Service from the battleship "South Carolina" and the gold-bordered state china are among the items of special interest in the Mansion.
The Lace House, acquired in 1968 through the efforts of Mrs. McNair and restored under the direction of Mrs. West, is the official guest house of the Governor’s Mansion. Another component of the Governor's Mansion Complex is the Caldwell-Boylston House and gardens which was acquired in 1979. Mrs. Riley had a special interest in the gardens and creating the grounds we see today.
For more information on the mansion, visit the South Carolina Governor's Mansion webpage.