Virginia's Executive Mansion

Historical Significance

Also known as the Governor's Mansion, the Executive Mansion was home to the state's first black governor in 1990, Governor Lawrence Douglas Wilder. Governor Wilder was elected the first black governor in the US since Reconstruction. Wilder was born in Richmond, the seventh of eight children of Robert and Beulah (Richards) Wilder. The grandson of American slaves, he was named after poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. He attended George Mason Elementary School and Armstrong High School, then racially segregated, and pursued his undergraduate work at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1951.

Wilder served in Korea, earned a law degree at Howard University School of Law, returned to Richmond and co-founded the law firm of Wilder, Gregory, and Associates.

Wilder began his career in public office after winning a 1969 special election to the Senate of Virginia from a Richmond-area district. He was the first African American elected as state Senator in Virginia since Reconstruction. In 1985, still holding office in the state Senate, Wilder was narrowly elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia on a Democratic ticket. Wilder was elected governor on November 8, 1989, defeating Republican Marshall Coleman by a spread of less than half a percent. The closeness of the margin prompted a recount, which certified Wilder's victory. 

Physical Description

Designed by Alexander Parris and completed in 1813, the Executive Mansion is the oldest governor's mansion in America.

Geographical and Contact Information

9th & Grace Streets
Richmond, Virginia
23219
Phone: 804-371-2646

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Virginia's Executive Mansion,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed March 28, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/470.

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