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14-foot Christmas trees, homey decor: Open house at governor's mansion starts Wednesday

Posted 1:01 p.m. Wednesday
Updated 10:36 p.m. Wednesday

The Executive Mansion, the official home of the North Carolina governor, will open its doors starting tonight for its annual holiday open house.

The public is invited to tour the first floor of the nearly 35,000-square-foot house at 200 N. Blount St., Raleigh, for free. No reservations are required - or accepted. The open house is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 6, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7, through Saturday, Dec. 9. Inside, you'll see giant Christmas trees, hear local groups performing Christmas and holiday music and get a glimpse at some of Gov. Roy Cooper's own family decorations. About 9,000 people attended the holiday open house in 2016.

This year, Cooper's first Christmas in office, you'll notice that things are a little bit different. First Lady Kristin Cooper, said Rachel Moore, the mansion's docent coordinator, wanted a less formal look for the mansion. So, instead of signing on a professional interior decorator to spruce up the home, they relied on volunteers to deck the halls. If you're a regular to the event, you'll notice a toned down look with fewer giant displays on the mantles, for instance.

"We hope people will enjoy the more homey version of a mansion Christmas," Moore said. Get a closer look at this year's decorations in our image gallery.

Another change: The mansion will be open from Wednesday to Saturday instead of Thursday to Sunday, which is the usual schedule. The open house always begins on the same evening as the State Capitol tree lighting ceremony. That event usually is held on a Thursday, but, this year, Thursday, Dec. 7, falls on Pearl Harbor Day. To avoid conflicts, the State Capitol tree lighting ceremony was moved to tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 6. The event, which includes music, decorations and treats, runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The mansion, which opened in 1891 and boasts 55 rooms, also hosts open houses in the spring and fall, but those require reservations and are held only on weekdays.

This is our premier event," Moore said of the holiday open house. "It's the one time of year when the doors are open and you don't need a reservation."

If you go, here are a few things to look out for:

Gentlemen's Parlor

All of the trees come from North Carolina. The tallest stand about 14 feet in rooms with ceilings that are 16 1/2 feet tall. This tree, in the mansion's gentlemen's parlor, celebrates North Carolina with ornaments that include dogwood blossoms and cardinals.

Christmas at the N.C. Executive Mansion

Ballroom

The red, white and blue tree in the ballroom features ornaments made by children with parents serving in the military.

Christmas at the N.C. Executive Mansion

Library

In the library, hanging on the fireplace, you can see the stockings that First Lady Kristin Cooper made by hand for her husband and their three daughters.

Christmas at the N.C. Executive Mansion

Morning Room

The mansion's morning room features Kristin Cooper's own Christmas village collection, complete with a Krispy Kreme donut shop. Fun fact: Kristin Cooper also made by hand the white stand that the pieces sit on.

Christmas at the N.C. Executive Mansion

Dining Room

For long-time open house visitors, they'll noticed the biggest change in the dining room, which usually is decorated with ornate displays. This year, the decorations are toned down and the focus is on the table, which will be set for 21 people.

Christmas at the N.C. Executive Mansion

Ladies' Parlor

And, in the ladies' parlor, which is decorated in a Victorian theme, visitors will see this set of pottery from Jugtown in Seagrove, N.C.

Christmas at the N.C. Executive Mansion

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