Located just southwest of the Texas Capitol grounds, this Greek Revival mansion was designed by Abner Cook and completed in 1856—some three decades before the construction of the Capitol. The three-acre parcel occupies an entire city block and has been re-designed by a number of resident governors. In the mid-nineteenth century, a picket fence enclosed a lawn, sparse tree canopy, and vegetable gardens. Following a vacancy during the Civil War, gardener William Davenport sited fountains, planted roses and fruit trees, and laid out gravel paths and a formal garden with a gazebo. By the turn of the century, foundation plantings of shrubs around the mansion were removed and replaced with terraces. Greenhouses were also constructed while the formal entrance walk, on access with the mansion, was embellished with symmetrical plantings and ornamented with urns. In the 1930s cacti collections were installed, flower beds replaced vegetable gardens, and pecans, oaks, and elms were planted.
In the 1960s, Governor John Connally and his wife transformed the grounds: A brick wall, painted white and topped by an iron railing to match the Capitol grounds, was constructed. Landscape architect Joe Lambert, Jr., designed an oval reflecting pool centered in a brick patio and flanked by a garden with plants donated from affiliated chapters of Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. In 1997 The Broussard Group (now TBG Partners) introduced a seating area to the reflecting pool garden and adorned the perimeter wall with jasmine. In 2008 the mansion was damaged by arson and its subsequent restoration prompted the development of a master plan by TBG Partners. The Mansion was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974.