Hosted by the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, this elegant royal tea raises funds for the upkeep of the historic home’s interior. Come for the petit fours, leave knowing you’ll have played a role in preserving Missouri’s history.

Built in 1871, the Missouri Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City, Missouri, serves as residence for the governor and first lady.
Photo courtesy of Tyler Beck Photography

By Caroline Dohack

For the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, keeping up with the historic home in Jefferson City, Missouri, means so much more than washing the windows and setting loose the Roomba. 

“The state takes care of the building itself,” says Friends of the Governor’s Mansion Executive Director Tami Holliday. “We handle the preservation and/or restoration of items such as the carpeting, draperies, furniture, and UV protection on the windows. One of the big things is keeping the portraits of the first ladies preserved and in good shape.” 

To ensure there’s adequate cash flow to cover these expenditures—which can be significant—the organization hosts a handful of fundraising events throughout the year. Its annual Royal Tea will be held Saturday, April 20, at Racquet Club Ladue in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Friends of the Governor’s Mansion hosts a series of events throughout the year, including its annual Royal Tea, to raise funds for its historic preservation projects.
Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion

Holliday says the royal tea—so called because the service includes a celebratory glass of champagne in addition to the tea, sandwiches, scones, and petit fours—is an opportunity to indulge in more flamboyant fashions.

“Wear your tea hats, dress up if you want,” Holliday says. “Go the whole route with gloves.”

As attendees mingle and enjoy their tea, there will be a short program on the organization’s mission and work, and the Friends will have Christmas ornaments and cookbooks for sale as well. 

Holliday says portrait restoration is currently a major priority for the Friends.

“We had an art conservator come in and look at the portraits and give us an audit of the condition they’re in, which need work,” Holliday says.

Completing this project might take a few years. The organization prioritizes Missouri-based artisans for restoration work, and at this time there are only two in the state with required expertise. Meanwhile, Holliday says it’s important to tackle the project one or two paintings at a time so there aren’t too many blank spaces on the walls when visitors come to tour the mansion. 

But even if the restoration work can seem slow-going, it’s also continuously ongoing. At one point, we pause our conversation so Holliday can welcome a delivery driver. 

“These must be the harp strings!” she says.

Now would be an ideal time to see that harp—and the rest of the treasures on display at the mansion. Holliday says spring is the busiest season for tours.

“The other big thing our organization does is we coordinate the docents who give the tours at the mansion,” Holliday says. “These are amazing individuals who learn the history of the mansion and volunteer their time, and they love doing it. They are busy now.” 

Feature image by Freerange Stock

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.