Day Trips

The Jean and Price Daniel Home and Archives is about as close as you can get to seeing the Texas Governor's Mansion these days

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The Jean and Price Daniel Home and Archives outside of Liberty, Texas, is about as close as you can get to seeing the Texas Governor's Mansion these days. The Greek Revival-style home on the grounds of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center was completed in 1983 using the architect's plans for the governor's residence.

Since the June 8, 2008 arson, the Austin home of Texas governors has been obscured from view by fences. The fire severely damaged the building's facade and roof. Most of the home's historic furnishings were in storage because of renovations in progress at the time. The Office of the Governor says it will probably be several years before the governor can occupy the residence again.

Price Daniel Sr. was one of the 40 governors to live in the mansion since Elisha M. Pease moved in in June 1856. Born in western Liberty County, Daniel practiced law in Liberty until elected as a state representative in 1939. He was speaker of the Texas House in 1943 but left to fight in World War II.

After the war, he served as state attorney general (1947-1953), U.S. senator (1953-1957), governor (1957-1963), and on the Texas Supreme Court (1971-1978). He had held more high state elective offices than any other Texan when he died in 1988.

Daniel and his wife, Jean, a great-great-granddaughter of Sam Houston, built the replica of the Governor's Mansion on their ranch outside of Liberty primarily as a guest house and library for his collection of books on Texas history.

"The Daniels only lived in the house a couple of weeks," says Darlene Mott, librarian at the Sam Houston Center. Their real home was past a small hill from the mansion.

From the outside, the two-story house looks almost exactly like the original as designed by Abner Cook. The "X-and-stick" railings on the porches and the six 29-foot columns were a Cook design trademark. Added to the Daniel mansion were the two wings that were never built on the Austin mansion due to lack of funds.

Except for the entry hall and stairs, the interior of the Daniel house looks nothing like the Governor's Mansion. Daniel's library of more than 3,000 books occupies a large part of the downstairs. The rest of the house is filled with antiques, family heirlooms, and honorarium from the Daniel family. One of Mott's favorite pieces is a child's high chair that can be folded into a stroller or rocking chair.

The Jean and Price Daniel Home and Archives is about three miles north of Liberty. Admission is free when the Sam Houston Center library has staff enough to give tours. The library also houses a museum of unique artifacts. The home and library are open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, and Saturday, 9am to 4pm. For more information, call 936/336-8821, or go to www.tsl.state.tx.us/shc.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Jean and Price Daniel Home and Archives, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Elisha M. Pease, Price Daniel Sr., Darlene Mott, Abner Cook

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