First Families and their guests have been gathering at this mahogany dining table for decades. The 14-foot table was crafted in 1825 and purchased for the Mansion in New York during the 1980s Bond Administration. It actually can be separated into three pieces allowing flexibility for its use.
This piece is known as the Edwards’ Sideboard and it is one of the oldest antiques in the Mansion. As you can see, the sideboard displays a Moravian Star prominently on the front cabinet. On both sides, lids sit atop a circular area, which was thought to have been plate plate-warming areas, while the bottom cabinets slide open for storage making this piece very unique. This sideboard belonged to Governor Edwards, (1844-1848) who lived in the second Mansion. On February 10, 1871, Governor Brown held a reception at the dilapidated second Mansion. The bad press resulted in the failure of many to attend, “from fear of the danger that might result if there was a crowd in the rooms above,” which forced the Legislature to take action. Thus, the current Mansion you are standing in was built in an 8 month period, being complete in December of 1871.
A portrait of George Washington Carver adorns the eastern wall of the dining room. (1864-1943). Born a slave in Diamond, Missouri, Carver went on to become a botanist and one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time. He devised over 100 products using one major crop, the peanut, including dyes, plastics and gasoline. President Theodore Roosevelt admired his zealous work and sought Carver’s advice on agriculture in the United States.
A pair of antique gasoliers created from brass and bronze are covered in gold gilt and boast the elaborate casting work typical of high-quality lighting fixtures of the 1870s. Did you know that electricity actually came to Jefferson City in 1887 and the first light was installed on the Mansion grounds in 1888?
Above the fireplace on the northern side of the Dining Room sits the only painting of a former Governor Francis (1889-1893) that is found in the Mansion. Governor Francis took office at age 38. He then returned to St. Louis following his term, where he served as chairman of the 1904 World’s Fair. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, the event was also known as the birthplace of the ice cream cone, Missouri’s state dessert!
Fire screens were used as decorative and also functional furnishings of the period. They provided a protection against too must heat on the face. In the cold winter months, women would sit close to the fire, but they would make sure to use the screen as a barrier to protect their wax makeup from running! Also considered an art form, fire screens displayed the “ability” of the lady of the house.
In the corner, hangs an original painting called “The Little Fisherman” created by renowned painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton. Benton’s fluid, sculpted figures in his paintings depict scenes of everyday life in the United States. Though his work is strongly associated with the Midwest, he actually studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1907. In 1908, he traveled to Paris and lived in New York City for more than 20 years where he studied at the Academie Julian.