Former first lady Nancy Evans remembers the moment she realized that the Governor's Mansion was a tourist destination.
"In the summer you leave the doors open — there was no air conditioning — and people, touring the Capitol, would innocently wander in. I remember coming downstairs and there were these people in the living room. They were very apologetic and I said, 'No, no, let me show you around,' " she said.
Evans turned to her friends in 1976, including Judy Henderson, who recalls the request this way: "Would you please help me give tours? Because people are walking through my house."
Henderson has been hosting mansion tours ever since — more than 31 years of explaining that the building next door to the Capitol is both private home and public showpiece.
Evans gets credit for saving the place. Through her husband Dan's three terms in the governor's office, she fought off a move to tear the mansion down, standardized its style, created the tour program and launched a foundation to furnish it.
That foundation is in charge of centennial celebrations that start this Friday with a garden party. The guests, including Gov. Chris Gregoire and Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander, will be in attire fitting 1908, when the cornerstone was laid.
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