Welcome to the New Mexico Governor's Mansion
We are excited to have you visit this historic building that showcases some of the great art, furnishings and architectural styles that our state is famous for and that also serves as home of New Mexico's First Family. We refer to the Mansion as “The People's House” because it belongs to the entire state, reflecting New Mexico's famous multi-cultural heritage and rich history. First occupied in 1955, this is the third Governor's Residence. The first Governor's Residence dates back to 1610, when the City of Santa Fe was founded as the capital of the Province of New Spain. After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 led to the departure of the Spanish, the original building, known as The Palace of the Governors, was under Native-American rule for a dozen years.
When the Spanish returned in 1692, '93, the building remained the Spanish Governor's residence until 1821. It was then the home of the Governor of the newly independent Mexico until 1846, the year when New Mexico was annexed by the United States as an official territory. All told, the Palace of the Governors served as home to various forms of government for nearly three centuries, during periods of Spanish, Native-American and Mexican rule, and as a U.S. territorial capital and Governor's residence until the early 1900s.
The second Governor's Residence was a Greek revival mansion built in a more traditional style that was partially a reflection of New Mexico's desire to become a state, which occurred in 1912. The mansion was also famous for its well-tended gardens, where various First Ladies grew prize-winning dahlias and other flowers. However, a disastrous flood from the nearby river made it unsafe and unlivable by the late 1940s.
In 1955, today’s Governor’s Mansion, designed by W.C. Kruger was completed on a thirty-acre parcel hilltop north of Santa Fe’s Plaza off of Bishop’s Lodge Road. This mid-century modern residence was designed to include New Mexico’s famous portals, an open concept for the public areas, and plenty of space for art and sculpture. Governor John F. Simms was the first chief executive to reside in the new structure. The architectural style is known as modified territorial. It recalls a sprawling hacienda of Spanish colonial days, design elements from the Native-American pueblos and the territorial style developed after New Mexico became a U.S. territory in the mid-1800s.
The foyer is the Mansion's reception hall where guests can move freely into the public areas, welcomed by a large rug bearing an image of the State Seal. The foyer and other rooms in the Mansion display famous paintings by artists drawn to New Mexico over the centuries, such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Sheldon Parsons, Joseph Henry Sharp, Paul Burlin, Will Shuster, Allan Houser, and many others. The foyer is also home to the oldest pieces of furniture in the mansion. Known as a campaign tables, tables of this type featured folding legs and were originally designed for military use when traveling during a campaign. These early 19th-century tables traveled to Santa Fe from Mexico City via oxcart along the 1,500-mile Spanish colonial trail known as El Camino Real, the royal road that terminated in Santa Fe, then the capital of the Spanish Empire north of the Rio Grande. In those days, the journey took almost six months.
The campaign tables display a series of holiday ornaments featuring distinctive examples of New Mexico culture, such as flamenco dancing, hot-air balloons, our famous chile, the state gem turquoise, a Cochiti Pueblo storyteller figure, and The Santa Fe Trail.
The living room is a popular meeting place during public functions and for the Governor's family. The piano is central to festivities at the mansion, and many a famous player has tickled the ivories over the years. Another focal point is the fireplace and wide windows that show off outstanding views of the gardens on the mansion's thirty-acre parcel.
The living room features signature pieces representative of the many strands of New Mexican art, such as outstanding pottery, paintings, and sculpture by Native Americans, tin work, and carvings, in a Spanish colonial and Mexican traditions, as well as fine paintings loaned from our outstanding New Mexico art museums.
One of the most popular decorative touches in the Mansion is the dining room's stenciled ceiling, stenciled by New Mexico artists. The design takes its inspiration from the Spanish palace near Madrid, where King Philip III signed the papers authorizing the settlement of Santa Fe.
We hope that you will enjoy your visit—either virtual or in-person—and that New Mexico has put you under its spell of enchantment!
Photos of Greek Revival Mansion courtesy of George Foster Hannett.
Photos of the Palace of the Governor's, copyright Brian Fishbine.