clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why Massachusetts Doesn't Have a Governor's Mansion

New, 5 comments

Charlie Baker will not end Inauguration Day on Jan. 8 in a Governor's Mansion (and Deval Patrick doesn't live in one now). It's not for lack of trying on the part of Massachusetts, one of only five states without an official residence for its chief executive.

Attempts at creating a Massachusetts Governor's Mansion run at least back to the 1850s, when the owners of the old Hancock Manor on Beacon Street in Boston offered to sell the one-time home of John Hancock to the state. Those beyond the comfy confines of Beacon Hill saw the purchase as profligate, however, and there wasn't another serious attempt at procuring a Governor's Mansion until the early 20th century, when officials proposed buying the Province House on Marlborough Street (which is now present-day Washington Street). It had, after all, housed royal governors in colonial times. That idea, too, petered out, perhaps because Province House had fallen into disrepair and would have needed hefty renovations. Both Hancock Manor and Province House were demolished by the 1930s.

Two other serious proposals emerged in the middle of the 20th century. One would have had the governor living at the Shirley-Eustis House at 33 Shirley Street in Roxbury. The Georgian mansion, which is still very much there (and is pictured up top), had been the residence of royal Gov. William Shirley in the mid-1700s. In 1955, however, then-Gov. Foster Furcolo said no-thanks to a plan to turn it into the residence for his successors (Furcolo does not appear to have given a specific reason for the thumb's-down, though we're going to guess fiscal prudence once again).

Finally, in the late 1960s, leaders in Dedham voted to offer the old 21-acre Endicott Estate off East Street to the commonwealth. Gov. John Volpe soon took title to the 25-room spread, with a plan to move his family in by Christmas 1969. Then it became clear it would cost upward of $1,000,000 to renovate the estate built seven decades before by shoe kingpin Henry Bradford Endicott. For that kind of scratch, Massachusetts could have built a brand-new Governor's Mansion. The family never did move in, with Volpe splitting for Washington in 1969 anyway to become transportation secretary. The commonwealth gave the Endicott Estate back to Dedham, where it is available for private events.

No serious attempt at birthing a Massachusetts Governor's Mansion has been made since.
· Governors Digs [CommonWealth]
· Governor Patrick Tries Again to Sell Milton Mansion [Curbed Boston]
· Our Curbed's Could Have Been archive [Curbed Boston]