Did You Know: Arizona Has A Governor's Mansion

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, October 31, 2014 - 9:52am
Updated: Friday, October 31, 2014 - 2:05pm

(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Arizona Territory Governor’s Mansion at the Sharlot Hall Museum campus in Prescott.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Governor’s Mansion entrance is adorned with rose bushes that bloom in the spring.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
John N. Goodwin was the first appointed governor of Arizona Territory, taking oath in December 1863. This photo sits inside the Governor’s Mansion at the Sharlott Hall Museum in Prescott.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Richard C. McCormick was the second governor of the Arizona Territory, appointed in March of 1866. He and his wife Margaret lived in the Governor’s Mansion. This photo sits inside the Governor’s Mansion in Prescott.

Arizona is one of nearly half a dozen states without a governor’s mansion. But we weren’t always without an official governor’s residence.

A log cabin sits in the middle of the Sharlot Hall Museum campus on Gurley Street. It’s the 150-year-old Arizona governor’s mansion.

Did you know the governor's mansion is the oldest Arizona Territory building still standing on its original location?

“It was built in 1864 by Governor John Goodwin, first governor of the Territory and Richard McCormick who’s the first secretary of the Territory. So they pooled their money and built this house," said Mick Woodcock, chief curator at the Sharlot Hall Museum.

"Well, it is well-made for the time period when you consider people were living in shacks and in wagon boxes and tents, and really crude log cabins, this is a mansion for the time period,” Woodcock said.

As we make our way into the cabin, Woodcock says Goodwin and McCormick were well-off men from the east coast. They were accustomed to more comfortable living quarters and decided to split the cost of building this home for both to live in. The Ponderosa pine log cabin is a duplex with an attic and a communal dining area. Goodwin lived on the south end with McCormick in the north half.

“Richard McCormick goes back east on official business and gets married while he’s back there and he brings his wife back. In the meantime, Goodwin had been elected Territorial Representative to Congress. He’s leaving, he tells the McCormicks they can do what they want with the house he’s not coming back to Arizona,” Woodcock said.

McCormick then became governor. He and Margaret lived in the home as the first family. But Woodcock said the mansion was only in official use for about two years until the Territorial capital moved to Tucson.

The governor’s mansion was lived in by several people and then left vacant until 1917 when the state acquired it. By 1927 Arizona Territorial Historian Sharlot Hall converted the mansion into a museum.

The cabin has been refurbished and the front porch was added by a later owner. But there is one item in front of the house that hasn’t changed. There are pink rose bushes adorning the entrance. Those are considered grandchildren to Margaret McCormick’s original rose bush.

Woodcock said after Margaret’s death, a woman in the area noticed the rose bush was not being cared for, took a cutting and planted it in her home.

“When they go to put in the rose garden down at the state capitol in Phoenix they hear about the rose bush. They come and get a cutting and propagate that down there.”

Then Sharlot Hall Museum decided to take a cutting from the rose bush at the state capitol and plant it here at the governor's mansion, thus bringing the roses back to their original home.

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