The Parlors

Gentlemen's Parlor and Ladies' Parlor

In the early days, governors would entertain their guests in the dining room and after dinner retire to the South Drawing Room, where gentlemen would smoke, drink, and talk about politics. The ladies often drifted across the hall to escape the smoke and political talk. Thus developed the practice of male guests gathering in one parlor and female guests gathering in another. Soon the rooms came to be informally referred to as the Ladies' Parlor and the Gentlemen's Parlor. Although today's guests of the governor, both male and female, use both rooms, the rooms still bear their old names as a bow to history and tradition. They continue to be decorated in the manner related to their historic titles.

Gentlemen's Parlor

Gentleman's Parlor

One of the two "withdrawing rooms" in the mansion, the Gentlemen's Parlor features Chinese Chippendale decor. It also contains several items symbolic of North Carolina, including the Boehm porcelain cardinals and the "Blackbeard" Stueben urn. The carpet was designed for this room and hand hooked in Tryon, North Carolina. Each corner contains a medallion representing an event significant in the state's history. Those events are: Desoto's 1540 exploration of the North Carolina mountains; the first "Roanoke Voyage" in 1585, sent to what is now North Carolina by Sir Walter Raleigh to prepare for the establishment of a permanent colony in the New World; the 1795 opening of the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), the first state supported university in the United States; and the first powered flight by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903. The chandelier was purchased in New York City and its mate hangs in the Ladies' Parlor. The room features some eighteenth-century furniture, including a gaming table with circular wells on the corners for candlesticks, and oval wells for game pieces.

Ladies' Parlor

Ladies Parlor

Traditionally a haven for ladies, this room is furnished in the classical manner of the eighteenth century. The Ladies' Parlor is a reflection of the Gentlemen's Parlor, with matching mantel, chandelier, and over-mantel mirror. The pianoforte was built in the 1830s by Wesley Whitaker, a Raleigh piano maker, and is one of the few signed North Carolina pieces in existence. During the term of Gov. Angus McLean (1925-1929), Mrs. McLean had a powder room added to the Ladies' Parlor. Until then there was not a restroom on the first floor. In 1929, during the residency of Gov. and Mrs. O. Max Gardner, New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt—later the nation's thirty-second president—visited the mansion, requiring that this room be used as a bedroom because of his disability (a result of the disease known as polio).