100 Years in the Nevada Governor's Mansion

Published 2009
by Stephens Press,
Las Vegas, Nevada

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In 1909, after thirty years of bickering, battling and back-biting in the Nevada Legislature, the Nevada Governor's Mansion in Carson City opened its doors to its initial first family, Governor and First Lady Denver and Una Dickerson and their children. For the next one hundred years, seventeen other first families would move into, then out of, the 22-room Neoclassical Revival home, fronted by its classic fluted Ionic columns.

The walls of the now century-old mansion have seen and heard it all, from birth to death, joy to anger, victory to defeat, and happiness to despair. Ten Democratic governors have called it home, and eight Republicans.

The Governor's mansion in 1909.
The men heading the households - Nevada has so far never elected a female governor -- have been lawmen, newspapermen, miners, bankers, businessmen, engineers, educators, ranchers, lawyers, and professional politicians. Regardless of the governors' party affiliations or career backgrounds, however, every one would agree that the difficult, stressful, and often lonely and thankless job of overseeing and running the Governor's Mansion and its many activities falls mainly to the first ladies. Of the mansion's eighteen first ladies, seventeen were the wives of the governor; one, Ellen Miegs Oddie, was the mother of the governor.

This book is not about government or politics. It's about the everyday lives of those eighteen first families who have called the stately old building their home since 1909. It's about serious times, such as in 1934 when an ex-convict tried to blow the mansion up; or 1968 when police and a would-be burglar had an old fashioned Wild West shootout in the back yard of the mansion; or 1968 when the first lady caught her son secretly tape recording a meeting between his father and President Richard Nixon.

It's also about the humorous times the old house has witnessed, like in 1983 when the First Pet, Chelsea the Bulldog, ate the governor's inauguration cake; or 1909 when the governor's Santa Claus whiskers caught on fire (no damage done;) or the 1920s when the First Kids tipped over an occupied outhouse in Carson City's Chinatown.

The Governor's mansion in 1909.
A common thread underlying all these events is the story of the old house itself, and how it's managed to survive everything that's been thrown at it - literally. Through major renovations, minor repairs, and endless follies, the century-old structure and its marvelous gardens have come through, if not unscathed then at least undaunted.

This fun-filled look at a historic public institution is also visually stunningly. More than two hundred photographs, most in full color, grace the pages of this oversized volume, making it a book that's sure to be treasured in any public or personal library.