Youngkin Administration clears up confusion over mansion tours

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Tours of the Governor’s Executive Mansion returned after a 2-year pause, but several say the stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked there are not included.

The Director of the Executive Mansion, Georgia Esposito, is clearing the air. She says the tour was never changed to leave out the history of enslaved laborers.

“We didn’t have any other idea of any other kind of tour that was given before we got here,” she said. “That was sort of something confusing that was put out initially that people misunderstood. There have been no changes to any of our tours.”

There was a movement under the Northam administration where historians and descendants teamed together in hopes of changing the narrative of the tours.

“In the Northam administration, it was really testing things out, including the mentioning of things, pointing things out, giving the quotes, acknowledging that those people were there, and the roles that they have in it,” Dr. Kerri Moseley Hobbs said. “But we were continuing to develop some more ideas about what more do you do with that.”

Moseley-Hobbs is a descendant of the Fraction family. Former Virginia Governor James Patton Preston enslaved her ancestors.

She hopes the new administration follows through on telling their stories.

“If it gets to the point where there’s a reluctance, or there’s a wall that we hit, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the work stops. We just find another avenue of venue to do it,” she said.

Esposito says there’s no reluctance to acknowledge the enslaved. They are still in the early stages of planning a virtual tour involving all the former slave dwellings.

“That would involve all the buildings on our campus, not only the historic kitchen. We have a really interesting carriage house that has a lot of history and a lot of tales around it,” she said.

The next goal is to revamp the Valentine Jackson Memorial Garden. It memorializes two enslaved families that came to the mansion with Governor David Campbell, who was forced to work and separated from their families.

In a statement to NBC12, the Community Advisory Committee says it is fully engaged with this administration and money is already set aside for these projects.

They will also be working on developing a more robust mansion tour than has been given in the past.