Touring the Nebraska Governor’s residence highlighted our visit to Lincoln last weekend. It was our first time visiting the home, and we were impressed with the subtle holiday decorations used throughout the “People’s House” (as Gov. Pete Ricketts called it).
The foray features a tree with a few accessories surrounding it. It set the tone for the visit. The governor and First Lady greeted visitors there. The governor was kind enough to pose for a photo with Lisa and our Elf on the Shelf, who is also named Peter. I give him props for that.
The first room we visited was the living room. It isn’t used as a regular living room, though. The room is rarely used. When it is, it’s usually for a formal pre-dinner gathering spot for dignitaries. It was beautiful. The fireplace area was decorated for the holidays.
The formal dining room was impressive. The governor entertains guests here. The table display was highlighted by a chandelier that was brought to Lincoln from Germany.
The silver dinnerware located throughout the dining room was once used on the USS Nebraska.
A small informal dining room is used by the family for meals. However, the First Lady and children live in Omaha (due to the kids’ high school activities), so Gov. Ricketts is likely to use it for small work meetings.
The first floor also is home to the governor’s private office, as well as a sun room.
The lower level has a large meeting space that can actually be rented for dinners and meetings. Otherwise, the governor may have press conferences and other public addresses here. Behind the governor’s podium is an old bomb shelter. It’s used for other purposes now, but does have space for the governor in case of an emergency, such as a tornado.
A room highlights dolls of former first ladies throughout the state’s history. It dates to the territorial governor’s wife. The dolls are dressed in either formal inaugural gowns or other dresses they may have worn for special occasions. We have one male doll, as Bill Orr was Nebraska’s First Gentleman while his wife, Kay, served as governor during the 1980s.
Public tours of the Governor’s mansion are offered each Thursday.
The second house we checked out sort of had a personal attraction for me. The Thomas P. Kennard house was the first house built in Lincoln, in the late 1860s. Kennard was the state’s first secretary of state. My hometown of Kennard was named after him.
The house doesn’t have any of the Kennards’ personal items, but it was renovated and displays furniture and fixtures from the era they lived there.
The main floor offered a look at the living room, Kennard’s den and kitchen. It was a small house, but attractive.
The second floor had the family’s bedrooms.
Next door, William Ferguson built a larger home in the early 1900s. The Ferguson House is now used by the state for office space, but visitors can still take tours. Brochures describe what each room was used for during the Fergusons’ time there.
The top floor had a ballroom, where the family would entertain. It was common for a stringed instrument band to perform. It’s currently used as a studio for photographers.
Our next stop was to check out the Christmas tree at the Capitol building. We were a little bummed by the state’s official Christmas tree in the state capitol’s rotunda. The tree is located against a wall on the main level. Lisa and I thought it would look much nicer if it was truly in the center of the rotunda. I’m sure it is positioned for safety purposes, but it would look so much better in the middle of the rotunda.
The capitol district wasn’t the only place in Lincoln celebrating the season. The Haymarket District had decorations and music to help with holiday cheer.
The railroad park had the train engine outfitted with white lights, which enhanced the small park.
The Railyard area of Haymarket has an ice rink set up for the winter. People took advantage of a nice Sunday to get some skating in.
We had a great time visiting Nebraska’s capital city to take in some holiday fun. We encourage everyone to take the time and check out your area’s holiday offerings.
For more information on Lincoln and its attractions, please visit www.lincoln.org.