"Memories of the Mansion"

First Lady Sandra Deal w/ former-First Lady Marie Barnes

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 6, 2015) – There’s the published version of “Memories of the…

Georgia (Nov 5, 2015)

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 6, 2015) – There’s the published version of “Memories of the Mansion: The Story of Georgia’s Governor’s Mansion,” and the version that will never see the light of day.

“We continue to talk about the book we wrote and the book we can never write,” said Catherine Lewis, co-author and Kennesaw State University public historian.

Lewis, along with her colleague Jennifer Dickey, coauthored “Memories of the Mansion” with First Lady Sandra Deal. The 226-page book, which launched in September, tells the story of the mansion and the eight “first families” that have called the Greek Revival on West Paces Ferry Road home. It is filled with personal photos and recollections from the Maddox, Carter, Busbee, Harris, Miller, Barnes, Perdue and Deal families.

Lewis, Dickey and first ladies Deal and Marie Barnes held a book talk on the Kennesaw Campus Nov. 4.

“The first printing sold out in three weeks,” Lewis said. “We’re in our second printing, with a third printing planned.”

The book was the result of current resident Deal’s curiosity. Having moved into the mansion on the eve of Atlanta’s ice storm in 2011, once she was able to explore the historic property, Deal was fascinated by the things she saw from the terraced gardens to the marble fountain and a millstone with “I was born here” engraved on it.

“When I got the opportunity to look around, I had all these questions, and nobody seemed to know the answers,” Deal said.

Though she initially thought about writing the book herself, Deal said she quickly determined she needed help.

“I’m so grateful to Catherine and Jennifer for doing the hard work,” she said.

The authors conducted about 150 interviews for the project, which took only four calls to initiate, Lewis recalled. The first call went from Gov. Deal to his Chief of Staff Chris Riley, who called Steve Wrigley at the University System of Georgia, who in turn called KSU President Daniel S. Papp.

“The president called, and said ‘Catherine, what are you doing,’” Lewis said. “I replied, ‘What am I doing?’ He said, ‘you’re going to write a book with the governor’s wife.’

“The next time we spoke about the book, I handed him a copy.”

Much the same as the book launch party at the Atlanta History Center Sept. 28, the first ladies shared insider stories of life in the Governor’s Mansion. Like the time Marie Barnes, who was still new life in the mansion, went downstairs late at night for a piece of red velvet cake.

“I went downstairs to get a piece of cake, it was around 10 or 11 p.m., and I didn’t turn the kitchen lights on or anything,” she said. “The next thing I knew, there was a state trooper standing there with a gun pointed at me!”

Barnes didn’t know she was supposed to call the guardhouse, if she was going downstairs late at night.

Then there was Mrs. Deal’s story about the “magic laundry basket.” Deal would put her laundry in the laundry basket and the next day it would be gone with all of her dirty laundry, including her unmentionables.

“Then I found out that men do the laundry, and I was very embarrassed,” she said. “From then on, I’ve been very particular about what I put in the laundry basket.”

"Memories of the Mansion" can be purchased at the Governor's Mansion during tour hours (10 - 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, at select Barnes and Noble stores and on Amazon.com. Proceeds from sales of the book will benefit Friends of the Mansion Inc., a nonprofit organization created by former first-lady Mary Perdue to raise money for maintaining the mansion's furnishings and artwork.

For the original book launch story, click here.

For additional insider stories from Deal, Barnes and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Shirley Miller and Mary Perdue, click here.

-- By Jennifer Hafer

-- Photo by Anthony Stalcup


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu