Repository: Governor's Mansion of the. 42 artifacts total
Governor's Mansion of the State of Utah603 E South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
During an era that combined the grace and dignity of living at the close of the 1800s with the new, highly expressive styles that marked the first decade of the twentieth century, Thomas and Jennie Kearns built a home on the corner of G and Brigham Streets. The story of the Kearns mansion is one steeped in a rich and colorful history.
In February, 1937, Jennie Kearns donated the Kearns Mansion to the state on the condition that it serve as the Governor's Residence. The Utah Legislature appropriated $28,000 toward furnace renovation and the purchase of new furnishings.
In 1938, Utah artist and decorator Florence Ware was hired to oversee the refurbishing of the interior. Florence purchased original artwork by prominent Utah artists as well as new furniture, kitchen appliances, oriental rugs and ivory-colored drapes. Florence's father, architect Walter E. Ware, supervised structural modifications, electrical upgrades and the overhaul of the mansion's heating and plumbing systems.
From the late 30's until the late 50's, several Utah governors and their families occupied the mansion--Henry and Minnie Blood, Herbert and Florence Maw, J. Bracken and Margaret Lee. During Lee's second term, the Utah Legislature turned management of the Mansion over to the Utah State Historical Society, which moved in on January 7, 1957. Unfortunately, the Historical Society had limited funds for maintenance, and the building fell into disrepair. The basement bowling alley was used to house the society's many books. (There is no longer a bowling alley in the mansion.)
In 1977, Governor Scott Matheson proposed restoring the Kearns Mansion to its previous status as the Utah Governor's Mansion. In January of that year, the Utah Legislature authorized the sale of the Fairfax Road Governor's Mansion in the Federal Heights area of Salt Lake City, and the reconversion of the Kearns Mansion. The Historical Society moved to the Crane building (and later to the Rio Grande railway station).