Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden seeking volunteers

The Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden in Bexley, Ohio is now seeking volunteers for 2017. Available opportunities include docents for the historic 1920s residence as well as guides and gardeners for the home’s unique and educational gardens.

Ohio’s governors and their families have used the residence at 358 N. Park Avenue as living quarters and as a location for state business and special events since 1957. The home, with its Jacobean revival architecture and extensive garden, is visited by thousands of guests annually.

“During the past several administrations, we have worked with the first ladies of Ohio and the non-partisan Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden to establish a collection of Ohio art and craftsmanship, including pottery and glass, so we could make the home a showcase of Ohio,” said Residence Curator Mary Alice Mairose. “Many guests also like to know they are standing in a room once visited by dignitaries, including John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ronald Reagan.”

Docents conduct Tuesday tours of the home most weeks at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required at least one week in advance; there is no charge for the tours.

Garden guides lead visitors through the award-winning garden that features formal plantings, including roses and dahlias, and five areas representing Ohio’s diverse glacial history, topography, soil type, geology and plants. (Think bogs, sand dunes and more.)

Mairose is looking for volunteers interested in history, architecture, art and gardening. Those interested in becoming a docent or garden guide should request an application at Background checks, fingerprinting and in-person interviews are mandatory. A three-hour training session, additional reading and tour shadowing are also required. Volunteers are expected to donate at least 12 hours a year.

“We also want to make it fun to volunteer,” said Mairose. “We offer field trips and provide guest speakers to our volunteers, both to enrich the experience of Residence visitors as well as that of the volunteer.” Governor’s gardeners volunteers work with professionals to maintain the educational gardens. Their contributions to the Heritage Garden can vary according to ability, experience and desire.

On some days, 45 to 50 governor’s gardeners are busily weeding, pruning or planting. Last year, volunteers donated more than 2,500 hours. Gardeners receive an orientation, but training is “mostly on the job,” according to Mary Lewis, curator of native plant habitats, research manager and volunteer coordinator.  “All volunteers are important to us,” Lewis said, “and you don’t have to be a Master Gardener to participate. Our volunteers are unique because they take charge of what they are doing and get it done.”

Governor’s gardeners travel to the Residence from about 18 Ohio counties. Gardening clubs across the state are encouraged to participate. For more information about becoming a governor’s gardener, email



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