Our First Family’s Home

The Ohio Governor’s
Residence & Heritage Garden

Ohio University Press


A historic preservation specialist recently suggested that the Ohio Governor’s Residence has three stories to tell: the story of the structure itself along with the furnishings and memorabilia of the family that gave it to the state; the history of Ohio artists and artisans whose work is displayed; and the history of the house as a home for the governors and their families. A fourth story was added during the Taft administration when First Lady Hope Taft made a concerted effort to reflect all of Ohio’s diverse landscapes through the creation of the Ohio Heritage Garden. These four stories combine to make the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden a living museum.

Exterior view of the residence; lawn and blue flowers in the foreground

The Ohio Governor’s Residence
Photograph by Ian Adams — © 2007

Mary Alice Mairose received a BA from Northern Kentucky University and an MA in American History from the Ohio State University. As curator at the Governor’s Residence, she has conducted extensive research on the property and its occupants, and has developed the Residence docent program.

Botanical artist Dianne McElwain works from her home-studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dianne is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists in New York City. Her botanical art has won numerous awards, and her paintings are found in prestigious collections throughout the United States and in London, England.

Frances Strickland moved from Kentucky to Ohio when she married Ted Strickland in December, 1987. She received a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Kentucky and spent most of her professional life working in the public school system. As first lady, she is chair of the Family and Children First Council and supports her husband’s education, and health care initiatives.

Hope Taft, First Lady of Ohio 1999–2006, moved to Ohio in 1972 when her husband, Bob Taft, entered the University of Cincinnati Law School. As first lady, she realized the need of Ohioans to connect with the Governor’s Residence and instituted many programs to make their visit a meaningful experience. The development of the curator’s position, the introductionof a trained docent program for volunteer guides, the creation of the Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden, and the installation of the Heritage Garden were four of these initiatives that combined her love of history and gardening with the educational mission of the Residence.

This book tells these four stories in a way that shows the evolving nature of the home and garden. The stories of the architectural design and style of the house, the evolving interior changes through nine different administrations, and the transformation of the grounds into a heritage garden are told by those who best know them.
from the Foreword by Governor Ted Strickland and First Lady Frances Strickland

To learn more about the Governor’s Residence and Our First Family’s Home you can:

Our First Family’s Home is the result of the work of many talented contributors:

Ian Adams is an environmental photographer, writer, and teacher based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. More than 4,500 of his color landscape and garden photographs have been published, and he has conducted over 130 seminars and workshops in nature, digital, and garden photography. Fifteen books of his photography have been published, including The Art of Garden Photography (Timber Press).

Guy Denny retired as chief of the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources after thirty-three years of public service. He is the former executive director of the Ohio Biological Survey. A graduate of the University of Toledo, Guy has published widely on Ohio’s natural history.

Dewey Hollister has been a landscape designer and garden lecturer in Cincinnati, Ohio, for more than twenty years. He has worked on projects from Ohio to the Bahamas and from Africa to China. Dewey has been actively involved in the Heritage Garden from its first day to the present.

Gary W. Meisner, FASLA, received his BSLA from Michigan State University. He is a partner at Meisner and Associates/LandVision Landscape Architects & Planners in Cincinnati and has created designs and master plans for public spaces in Ohio and surrounding states since 1970. Elected Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects by his peers in 1989, Gary has received more than fifty other awards and commendations.

Barbara Powers heads the Inventory and Registration Department of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, part of the Ohio Historical Society. A graduate of Miami University with a BA in American Studies, she received a Master of Architectural History and a Certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia. Barbara has researched and lectured on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Ohio architecture.

Ted Strickland grew up in Scioto County as the eighth of nine children. His resume includes serving in the ministry and as a children’s home director, psychologist, and college professor before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. He represented Ohio’s 6th Congressional District for twelve years and then in 2006 was elected governor.