Former Gov. Jerry Apodaca corrected a reporter back in 1978 who described the home of the state’s chief executive as the governor’s mansion.

It was the governor’s residence, he insisted.

So, which is it — mansion or residence?

See for yourself.

Nestled in the hills north of downtown Santa Fe, the home is open for tours during the next several months.

And the word “residence” is one that some governors had hoped would stick.

“Many governors have wanted to call it a residence, not a mansion,” said Kathy Dickerson, a docent at the home.

And to be sure, the one-story home is not as imposing as its two predecessors.

This is, technically speaking, the third governor’s mansion in New Mexico.

The first was the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza.

Then, there was a Greek revival home near the Santa Fe River, torn down in the 1950s. That house suffered from flooding.

Opened in the mid-1950s and perched above Santa Fe, the current mansion is far from those problems.

And rather than another house that might look more at home out East, this residence reflects the Territorial Revival style that characterizes other government buildings around Santa Fe.

“It’s smaller. It’s not as formal. It’s not palatial,” Dickerson said.

Designed by W.C. Kruger, the same architect behind the Roundhouse, it draws on the styles of New Mexico’s era as a territory while including other elements such as red brick trim around the roof.

And the interior — under 8,000 square feet — draws from a history that stretches back even further.

That includes the dining room, where the beams are stenciled with motifs inspired by a castle outside Madrid, Spain — a nod to New Mexico’s connections to Europe.

Then there is the artwork, much of it drawn from the collections of the state’s museums, Dickerson said.

But the house also takes on certain styles of its occupant, changing somewhat from governor to governor.

Gov. Bill Richardson was known for throwing star-studded parties at the mansion. Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart were married on the grounds during Richardson’s last year in office, for example.

Gov. Susana Martinez, by contrast, has been more low-key.

And Kathy Carruthers, whose husband Garrey was governor from 1987-91, left a lasting impact with an effort to shore up the structural soundness of the mansion and improve the design.

That gave birth to the Governor’s Mansion Foundation, which hosts the public tours and raises private funds for the building’s renovation and improvement.

The home remains public property, however.

Call it a mansion or a residence, there is still one term that will always be appropriate.

“Most of the governors have said this is the people’s house,” Dickerson said.

If you go

The Governor’s Mansion Foundation hosts docent-guided tours from 1-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month through November.

The mansion is located north of the Plaza, west off Bishops Lodge Road at One Mansion Drive.

For more information, visit

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