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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It was Martha Carper who first called Woodburn “the people’s house.” “But even more now,” says Horsey, “Woodburn is evolving to a house with open doors, one that’s shared with the public.”
The beauty of Woodburn “shows a hugeness of heart on both Governor and Mrs. Markell’s parts,” says Horsey. “Carla wants to make sure that all elements of our population are included and that everyone can share what this house has to offer. It’s about inspiring volunteer groups, and when you’re around her, you can just feel the positive energy. You want to contribute, and you feel you can contribute. She makes you feel that your voice is important.”
“It’s easier to engage others because they feel excited to be part of the solution,” Markell says. “We have a lot of people suffering in Delaware. We have economic challenges. But I believe people want to make a difference. I guess you could say that the governor’s mansion is a metaphor for that spirit.”
In addition to being one of the smallest governor’s mansions in the nation, says Horsey, “Woodburn is certainly, if not the oldest, with its 1790 date, at least among the top three or so in age. What an amazing life this old lady has had.”
And that life goes on.