Executive Mansion prepares to mark 200 years

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Mar 06, 2013 - 01:55 PM

Photo: Leo Bialkowski, executive chef of Virginia’s Executive Mansion.

Leo Bialkowski, executive chef of Virginia’s Executive Mansion.

The Governor’s Mansion in Richmond is 200 years old and its birthday party is to be held on the grounds of this historic site Saturday, March 16 from 4-8:30 p.m.

Virginia’s Executive Mansion has been home, office and center of official entertaining for governors and their families since 1813. Built during the War of 1812 to replace a modest frame structure that had stood for 12 gubernatorial administrations, it’s the most fabled and elegant of American executive mansions. It was the second governor’s residence constructed in the nation and today is the oldest governor’s residence used for its original purpose. The mansion has been home to 54 governors. It’s a Virginia landmark that truly deserves a big birthday extravaganza, and the present First Lady, Maureen McDonnell, is making sure that happens.

The Mansion is well known for its elegant foods whether for special events or just a family gathering. For the Birthday Party the foods will be made available by some of Richmond’s food services, not the Mansion kitchen. But leading up to this big event Mrs. McDonnell will host several occasions where she and the executive chef will serve beautiful, rich, and tasty Virginia foods in an elegant manner for which this home has become renowned.

Just recently Mrs. McDonnell hosted the First Lady’s 4th Annual Taste of Virginia luncheon for legislative spouses. Executive Chef Leo Bialkowski, a native of Richmond, put his knowledge of food and preparation into action and came up with a luncheon menu that wowed the guests. Many reports from guests were heard about this being the best luncheon they had ever enjoyed. Some of the guests’ spouses have served in the Senate or House of Delegates for many terms.