Wednesday, November 20, 2013

65th Annual Turkey Pardoning

One of our favorite occasions of the year happened today on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion: the 65th Annual Turkey Pardoning.  Each year, Bates Turkey Farm brings Alabama's favorite turkey couple, Clyde and Henrietta, to be pardoned from our plates by the governor.  Kindergarteners from Riverchase Day School sang fun songs celebrating Thanksgiving as the turkeys wobbled and gobbled in front of them.  Needless to say it was a fun day at the Mansion, and Clyde and Henrietta are once again relieved to be pardoned!

This year's pardoning was much different than the others due to the recent passing of Bill Bates.  Sixty-five years ago Mr. Bates and his family began the tradition with Gov. Jim Folsom.  As the sun shined down on the Mansion grounds, we all knew Mr. Bates was with us and remembered him for his service to our state and country. 

Over the past few weeks, the First Lady has been collecting blankets for the Blankets with a Blessing drive.  Though receiving a blanket may seem like a small gesture, it means love, hope and a new beginning for those who have suffered through domestic violence.  The First Lady will shortly donate the blankets to a shelter that houses victims who have been displaced from their homes with everything lost.  Mrs. Bentley is grateful for those who donated blankets thus far, for it is her goal that every Alabamian feels love and support during Thanksgiving. 

Thank you to the Bates family, Riverchase Day School and everyone who participated in one of our favorite traditions at the Governor's Mansion!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Story of a Clock

After standing silently for years, the Mansion’s grandfather clock is once again marking the passage of time. It is now softly ticking, thanks to local clock expert Tommy Williams of Clockworks.

Through the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, Mr. Williams volunteered to examine the clock and assess its condition. On his recommendation, the Friends arranged to have the mahogany case repaired and the badly damaged clock dial refinished. Mr.Williams took the works to his shop, took them apart, cleaned everything, and painstakingly reassembled them.  He observed the works for several months to make sure that everything was running properly before reinstalling them in the case.

Research by Friends of the Governor’s Mansion has determined that the clock is original to the house. Documentary and photographic evidence support this conclusion, and Mr. Williams’ inquiry in the clock experts’ world yielded additional  information.

The clock appears on the staircase landing in a Montgomery Advertiser photograph dated October 22, 1950, taken shortly after the purchase of the house from the Ligon family. The house, built by Adjutant General and Mrs. Robert Fulwood Ligon in 1907, was to become the official residence of the governor of Alabama. An even earlier photograph, taken in 1919, depicts the wedding party of their daughter Emily, assembled on the stairs in their wedding finery.  The clock is dimly visible on the landing.

The clue to the clock’s provenance is provided by a small plaque on the dial, engraved “LeBron Jewelry Co.” City directories reveal that Adolph W. LeBron, originally of Galena, llinois, owned a jewelry shop at 14 Dexter Avenue by 1901.  By 1913, he had moved his business, “LeBron Jewelry Co., A.W. LeBron, Pres. and Manager, Diamonds, Watches, Jewelry & Gifts,” to 104 Dexter Ave.  From 1914-1917, his advertisement included: “at the Sign of the Big Clock.” By 1919, LeBron was no longer listed in the city directory for either business or residence.

Mr. Williams learned through the “clock network” that Mattias Bauerle made the clock in 1909-10 in St. Georgen, Germany. The clock has Westminster and Trinity chimes,

The clock was certainly purchased by the Ligons for their new home before 1918. It has stood there for  a century, serving as a link between the early days of the house and the Governor’s Mansion.

Friday, November 15, 2013

First Lady Bentley Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Last month was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Mrs. Bentley was honored to participate in a number of activities to help bring awareness to a cause that is so important to her.

Mrs. Bentley held the first ever Domestic Violence Awareness Month Candlelight Vigil at the Governor’s Mansion on October 1, which brought together representatives from domestic violence shelters from across the state, local and state leaders and community organizations who support domestic violence awareness. It was a beautiful event that honored all of the victims of domestic violence here in our state.
Last year, Mrs. Bentley focused on domestic violence awareness and prevention on college campuses, so this year she decided to move her focus to younger students. Mrs. Bentley had the opportunity to visit two schools, Minor High School in Birmingham and Carver High School in Montgomery and talk to students about the importance of healthy, safe relationships.

Both schools were participating in a SafeDates Program where a local domestic violence organization sends representatives into the classroom to take students through the SafeDates curriculum. This curriculum includes lessons on healthy relationships, learning the signs of dating abuse and pre- and post- tests for students to take to test how much they learn from the program. The SafeDates programs were partially funded through a grant from HopeLine from Verizon.

"I think it is so important that young people learn early how to recognize healthy relationships," Mrs. Bentley said. "Those relationships are the foundation for healthy families and homes and ultimately healthy communities here in Alabama."

To end the month, Mrs. Bentley marked a major milestone in her project to collect cell phones for HopeLine from Verizon. With the help of the Department of Corrections, Mrs. Bentley has now donated more than 10,000 cell phones to HopeLine. To celebrate the milestone, the Governor’s Office organized a press conference at the Verizon Wireless store in EastChase for Mrs. Bentley and Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas to donate their most recent donation. The Department of Corrections donates all cell phones confiscated from inmates to Mrs. Bentley’s HopeLine collection.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Gearing up for Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, and what better way to ring in the holiday season than by having your fourth grade class send in ornaments to be displayed at the Governor’s Mansion for this year’s Christmas tours, which will take place December 2, 9 and 16, 2013, from 5-7 p.m.
First Lady Dianne Bentley is once again inviting fourth graders across the state to be part of the Christmas festivities at the Governor’s Mansion by creating ornaments that incorporate their Christmas spirit along with their knowledge of our state’s history.

“When we celebrated last Christmas, a box of ornaments came in every day. I was so impressed with the creativity of Alabama students and their teachers because we never knew what we would find when the package was opened. Not only was it a joy to receive them, but it was an honor to have so many people involved in our Christmas celebration,” Bentley said.
            First Lady Bentley is hoping to receive even more ornaments this year and to add to the number of trees on display at the Mansion complex. It’s a great way for your students to showcase their talents and creativity, but, more importantly, it allows them to be part of the Mansion’s Christmas celebration.
            Please mail ornaments to the Alabama Governor’s Mansion c/o Heather Hannah 1142 South Perry
Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104 by November 18, 2013, in order for them to be displayed in the house. Unfortunately, the ornaments will not be returned due to the amount received. Please note: they should be the size of a softball or smaller.
       If you have question, please contact Heather Hannah by phone 334-834-3022 or by email

            Thank you for your help and participation, and we look forward to celebrating the holiday season with you and your fourth grade classroom!