Natchitoches designer on team to refurbish Governor’s mansion

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Gov. and Mrs. John Bel Edwards greeted Marion Johnston in the Fleur de Lis Bedroom.

By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

A long-overdue refurbishing of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion is complete and a Natchitoches designer was part of the project. Marion Johnston says that about a year and a half ago, several licensed interior designers from around the state were asked by First Lady Donna Edwards and the Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation to participate in a project to update the private spaces of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion.

First Lady Donna Edwards, bottom left, recognized designers who were part of the project to refurbish the Governor’s Mansion. At top right is Marion Johnston.

These rooms had not been redone since the 1990s. Johnston was placed on a team with two other interior designers to work on the Fleur de Lis guest bedroom. “Using an existing four poster bed and writing desk, we added new draperies, bedside tables, accent mirrors, a crystal chandelier and lamps. A chaise longue and bench were reupholstered and a custom-built entertainment wall unit was designed by Shelby Taylor, one of our team members.” The members of the design team for the Fleur de Lis bedroom were Missy Dubroc of Alexandria, Shelby Taylor of Shreveport and Johnston. All are professional members of the American Society of Interior Designers. Dubroc and Taylor are actively practicing interior design while Johnston has been retired for almost 10 years.

This entertainment center was a custom design of designer Shelby Taylor.

“We developed our color scheme and new furnishings plan together,” Johnston says. “Missy used her sources for ordering new furniture and fabrics and Shelby designed the custom entertainment center and provided working drawings so the unit could be built. “Missy said that I was the ‘glue that held the team together’ and kept the team moving forward by making visits to the mansion to monitor renovation progress, interfacing with the Foundation’s director and providing Foundation deadlines for the project.” Johnston says she felt honored to be chosen to participate in this project. “All the interior designers donated their time as well as securing donations and special pricing for new items that were specified.

No taxpayer dollars were used on this project.

A chaise lounge received new fabric.

All proceeds from ticket sales at the showcase March 23 will be used by the Foundation for future enhancements in this beautiful residence,” Johnston says. Johnston has a degree in interior design from Louisiana Tech University. She worked in the profession for 40 years in New Orleans and retired from the United States Courts, Fifth Circuit, in 2009. According to the Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation website, “The Louisiana Governor’s Mansion belongs to the people of our great state and Gov. Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards are honored to call it home and help preserve its history for those who visit.” The Foundation’s executive director is Sandy Mcclelland. Mcclelland said Edwards and the foundation honored the designers from around the state who volunteered their services to redecorate the mansion for the past 10 months at a showcase March 23. “The mansion had not had a major refurbishment in over 20 years and it had become very tired looking and needed a new eye,” Mcclelland said. “The designers reached out to their vendors for inventory at cost less discounts. Some vendors were kind enough to donate inventory.“ Built in 1963 by former Gov. Jimmie Davis, the mansion is located in Baton Rouge on Capitol Lake near the State Capitol. It’s designed in the Greek Revival style, which was the dominant style in Louisiana after 1830. The Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation was started by former First Lady Alice Foster who wanted her legacy to be restoring the mansion. First Lady Edwards committed to carrying on Mrs. Foster’s vision when she learned that the mansion was in need of maintenance. She re-established the non-profit Foundation and an executive board was created to raise the funds to preserve its history and architecture

A four-poster bed is the focal point of the Fleur de Lis Bedroom.

The Foundation uses a variety of events to help support the mansion. Engraved bricks are available to be placed on the grounds of the mansion to honor family and friends.  In addition, First Lady Edwards has designed a set of state china that was purchased by private individuals and donated to the Governor’s Mansion collection.  This historical set contains a design of 18 fleur de lis on the coffee cup representing Louisiana’s place as the 18th state and 64 fleur de lis on the dinner plate representing Louisiana’s 64 parishes. The set was created in a state blue and gold pattern. These items can be seen and purchased through the governor’s mansion website www.governorsmansion.org or by calling the Executive Director of the foundation, Sandy McClelland at 337-578-4063 or by email gmpfinc@gmail.com.