Style and Legacy:
Perhaps no other residence in America but the White House has been the setting for as many historic aspirations and accomplishments. While living in the Executive Mansion, each governor has had his own style and created his own traditions, leaving a legacy that becomes part of the unique story of this historic house.
Originally built in 1856, the Executive Mansion reflects the many different styles of the last half of the 19th century. The first house on this site was a simple Italianate structure that was renovated in the in 1860’s into a home with elaborate Second Empire details. As years passed, tastes changed and families grew, the Executive Mansion evolved from a simple two-story house into the picturesque Queen Anne style building it is today. In 1971 the Executive Mansion and its grounds earned a place on the National Historic Register.
Prior to 1877 Governors of New York did not have an official residence in Albany. Governor Samuel J. Tilden rented the Executive Mansion for two years, and then Governor Lucius Robinson convinced the Legislature to buy the house for $45,000.00.
Beginning in 1983, First Lady Mrs. Matilda Cuomo undertook to preserve the historic nature of the house. Mrs. Cuomo oversaw the restoration of the nearly the entire first and second floors with the help of private funding. Much of this significant contribution to the Executive Mansion’s history is visible today.
Historic Items Collected Through the Years:
Many books, kitchen utensils, decorative objects and some furniture were included in the original sale of the home in 1877. Some of these pieces are still there, including a beautiful suite of Renaissance Revival furniture in the Reception Hall, a Renaissance Revival Dining Room table and chairs, and several small classical sculptures.
A set of Tiffany sterling silver inscribed with the New York State seal was purchased in 1912. The trumpet vases, epergne and footed platters are still in use today.
- Although the Executive Mansion does not have an extensive art collection, it is filled with beautiful paintings and sculpture on loan through the generosity of New York’s finest museums.
Greening the Mansion:
The "Greening the Mansion" program was initiated in 2007.
It is an ongoing project at the Executive Mansion to:
- Reduce energy usage
- Transition the building to clean, renewable energy resources
- To develop sustainable practices in maintaining the grounds and operations.
“Greening the Mansion” honors historic preservation guidelines consistent with the Executive Mansion’s status as an historic landmark. It also serves as a model for all New York homeowners as it promotes healthy buildings and environmental sustainability, while cutting electrical energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
On April 23, 209 the Executive Mansion was awarded LEED Gold Certification, the first by an existing building in New York State.
History of the Mansion Neighborhood:
Situated between Eagle Street and Trinity Place, was well outside Albany’s original 1624 Dutch enclave. For the first two hundred years of European settlement, the area was surrounded by creeks that ran to the Hudson River from the west and was home only to a few large estates and scattered farms. However, the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 caused Albany to grow by leaps and bounds and the Mansion area developed into a residential neighborhood. As the city turned into a railroad and industrial center, the neighborhood became a mixed residential area of merchants and industrialists as well as workers and the new middle class.
As massive numbers of European immigrants poured into Albany, many found homes in the Mansion Neighborhood. First settled in the early-nineteenth century by the English and Dutch, the neighborhood was later home to many of German and Irish descent, followed by Jewish and Italian immigrants, and later, African-Americans. The diversity of residents is also reflected in its architecture, from the fashionable homes of Madison Place, Eagle and Elm streets, to the more modest houses on Bleecker Place, Philip Street, and Park Avenue.
Originally part of the vast area known as the “South End,” the Mansion Neighborhood as it exists currently is defined by the South Mall, now the Empire State Plaza, dating from the 1962 demolition and construction north of Madison Avenue and west of Eagle Street. Today, the most obvious reason for the neighborhood’s name is its proximity to the Executive Mansion. In 1982, the neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district because of its architectural and historical significance.
Special thanks to Anthony Opalka of the Historic Albany Foundation.
Choose Your Tour:
The general tour takes the visitor on a journey through the Executive Mansion, examining its roles as both an official residence and a private home to New York's governors and their families. Tour discussion focuses on past and present New York State governors, architectural history, furnishings and artwork, and the Mansion’s present existence as a LEED-certified building.
The student tour focuses on four key periods in the Executive Mansion’s history: the Victorian era, 1920s to the mid-1930s, 1960s to the present, and the 21st Century. Through the use of artifacts, furnishings and art, students will explore the Executive Mansion’s significance to the culture and history of New York State. The tour culminates with a discussion about the Executive Mansion in the 21st century, including the importance of sustainable living and the Executive Mansion’s LEED-Gold certification.
Tours of the Executive Mansion are offered on Thursday during the September – June at:
All tours last approximately 1-hour. Tours begin at the front center gate of the Executive Mansion, 138 Eagle Street, Albany.
Groups must have at least 10 visitors with a maximum of 30 visitors (including chaperones).
The tour is free of charge
To schedule a tour, please contact Office of General Services Plaza Visitor Center:
Plaza Visitor Center & Gift Shop
Room 106 Concourse
Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12242
Reservations are required and must be made at least two weeks in advance.