West Side News

Ohio Governor's Residence

Seasonal trims highlight home's features

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Tours of the Ohio Governor's Residence, 358 N. Parkview Ave. in Bexley, are being scheduled for the holiday season.

The public is invited to schedule, between now and Christmas, guided tours of the home's interior.

"Ohioans and others are encouraged to enjoy the festive sights that adorn the home and learn more about its rich history, Ohio treasures, and the governors and families who have lived there," said Paige Bilotta, director of the Friends of the Governor's Residence.

"The holidays are an especially beautiful time at the Ohio Governor's Residence," she said. "Every year, dozens of volunteers from all over central Ohio gather just before Thanksgiving to ensure that the interior and exterior of this historic home are elegantly decorated for the holiday season. Outside, thousands of lights add sparkle to the trimmings that embellish the home and inside; each room is carefully adorned with greenery, lights and lovely holiday accouterments," Bilotta said.

"It's simply magical the way this home is transformed during the holidays," First Lady Karen Kasich said. "Our volunteers do an outstanding job of embellishing the interior with traditional decorations that highlight the home's Jacobean Revival roots. I look forward to sharing it with others who will enjoy its graceful beauty the way I do."

The Governor's Residence is a three-floor, 25-room home with a full basement. It is approximately 16,000 square feet. It was built in 1925 by Malcolm Jeffrey, whose father, Joseph Jeffrey, founded the Jeffrey Manufacturing Co.

As a state-owned facility, it is not a taxable property and is not assessed a property value by the state.

The Jacobean Revival style home includes slate floors, dark oak paneling, carved stone fireplaces and archways. Inside, a celebration of Ohio's history of art, industry and craftsmanship includes paintings by Ohio artists on loan from museums from around the state, examples of pottery and glass made in Ohio, and unique furniture created by Ohio craftsmen.

The gardens uniquely represent Ohio with areas representing the state's five regions and native plants ranging from the state wildflower, the large flowered trillium, to the prickly pear cactus that grows along the shores of Lake Erie.

The home has been used as the governor's residence since 1957. Nine governors and their families have lived there since then. Gov. James A. Rhodes did not live there during his last two terms in office, 1975-1983, however, he did live there from 1963 until 1971.

The residence is currently used for official dinners, luncheons, meetings and receptions. Though Gov. John Kasich continues to live at his Genoa Township house, he frequently hosts meetings at the residence with companies and individuals. First Lady Karen Kasich's offices are also located at the residence.

Notables among the residence's visitors have been John F. Kennedy and his brother, Ted, in 1959; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962 and then governor of Texas George W. Bush in 2000.

Kathleen Gilligan Sebelius, the current U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and former governor of Kansas, was married at the residence in 1974 during her father John Gilligan's term as governor of Ohio.

The last private owners, William W. and Florence Jeffrey Carlile, added a master suite on the second floor. In the process, they enclosed the rear porch creating two more rooms on the first floor. This was the last major addition to the home, however smaller scale preservation and restoration efforts have occurred throughout the years, primarily through privately funded donations to the non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the Friends of the Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden.

The Friends was established in 2006 in an effort to preserve and promote the residence and Heritage Garden as a living showcase for Ohio's history, artistry, culture, industry, craftsmanship and landscape.

First Lady Karen Kasich has led The Friends' efforts over the past two years to restore the interior to its Jacobean Revival style through the re-introduction of many of the home's original and state-acquired furnishings as well as the enhancement of the home's collections of Ohio craftsmanship. A few examples of her work with The Friends include the installation of replacement lighting in the study featuring a 1920s chandelier crafted by the Cincinnati Artistic Iron Works Co., the refurbishment of a number of hand-carved wooden chairs believed to be original to the home, and the acquisition of several pieces to the collection of Ohio made pottery and glassware. She was also instrumental in the creative design of the holiday decor.

The Ohio Governor's Residence is a state owned and operated facility and state tax dollars cover basic maintenance and building repairs. The Governor's Residence relies heavily on its use of volunteers as well as in-kind donations and public donations to The Friends to keep the grounds and interior properly maintained.

Tours of the first floor of the residence occur on most Tuesdays throughout the year. They provide a first-hand look into the space that Ohio's governor utilizes when meeting with business leaders, overseas dignitaries and state and national policy makers.

Holiday tours must be scheduled in advance and are offered on Tuesdays, after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. The tours are free, although donations to the Friends of the Governor's Residence will be accepted.

To schedule a tour, visit friendsohio.org or call 614-644-7644.

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