In 1856, a banker decided that he was going to build himself a home. The banker set his eyes on the famous Italianate style for his home and built this home to reside in. Years later, many people began to take notice of the beautiful home and the rest was history. In 1875, the residents of the home changed-- it was no longer just the banker’s home but it would become the home of one of the state’s most important figure: its governors.
The banker’s home, which is now known as the New York State Executive Mansion, is the official residence of the Governor of New York. The first Governor to reside in the mansion was Samuel Tilden; two years after, the mansion was purchased by the state and things took off from there. The mansion has housed thirty-one governors and their families. Having housed so many different personalities, it is evident that a little piece of each family would be left behind. Theodore Roosevelt had a gymnasium built during his time as governor, Franklin Roosevelt installed a pool, Alfred Smith had a zoo built and Nelson Rockefeller added the tennis courts. Although the mansion has had some fun renovations added, it had seen darker days.
In 1961, there was a fire at the mansion. Due to a faulty electric heating appliance that was meant to defrost the frozen pipes, the mansion was almost no more. The fire began in the basement and quickly raced up to the first floor. It consumed the drawing room and reception room on the floor and continued its journey to the second floor where it burned through bedrooms, including Rockefeller’s suite. Rockefeller and everyone else in the mansion made it out safely that evening but it began to cause people to believe that maybe the mansion was unfit for the job it had been doing for years and that change was needed.
The fire raised questions about the mansion and the purchase of a newer modern mansion uptown was considered. Rockefeller, however, was not sold on the idea of going somewhere else. He fought for restoration and was successful. In the early 1980s, the Executive Mansion Preservation Society was established to coordinate restoration of the home. After the restoration, it seemed as though the following governors and their families were set on making the mansion the best that it could be. In 2009, Michelle Paige Paterson, wife of Governor Paterson, announced that due to the “going green” initiative that the mansion had taken on, the mansion had earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. The mansion is the first governor's residence in the country to earn Gold status using the LEED for Existing Buildings rating system.
The mansion became the mansion because of its beauty but over the years, it has become more than just something to look at and a nice place to live. The past governors that have resided in the mansion have helped the state in ways that the forefathers may not have seen coming. Each individual left a piece of them in the mansion as a reminder that they were there and that there is a job to be done such as setting an example in terms of going green. Although it was once just a banker’s house, the mansion has become much more--it helps make Albany what it is.