The People's House
A restoration of the governor’s mansion shows off a successful marriage of history, elegance and comfort, as well as First Lady Carla Markell’s emphasis on volunteerism.
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Governor Ruth Ann Minner had the portraits hung after “the seed had been planted by Martha Carper,” says Horsey, though Minner did not commission the portraits. The late Ned Davis, a local lobbyist, and Glenn Kenton, who also helped acquire many of the portraits that now hang in Legislative Hall, led the committee.
“The project started in 1980 as a bipartisan effort with the acquisition of Mrs. Terry’s portrait,” says Horsey. “Russ Peterson donated the next photo portrait of his wife to be hung in 1995 (now replaced with an oil), while Mrs. Carvel followed in 1999.”
The Chippendale mahogany sofa in the living room is more comfortable than it looks. It’s paired well with a mid-19th century Chippendale secretary bookcase. A German crystal and silver mid-19th century chandelier is a stunning complement to the fixture in The Great Hall.
A blue-and-white English Staffordshire earthenware platter depicting the Great Seal of Delaware is a Woodburn tradition, though it gets moved with each administration. Above the gas fireplace is a portrait of Delaware’s Commodore Thomas MacDonough by John Trumbull. A war hero of the 1800s, MacDonough is immortalized in the England Staffordshire cobalt blue tea service that commemorates his victory over the British in 1814. There are letters signed by MacDonough and a lithograph of him, as well.
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