First Lady Jane Beshear's Communications Office
Berea College Students Handcraft 120 Chairs for Governor’s Mansion ‘County Seats Legacy Project’

Press Release Date:  Thursday, April 03, 2014  
Contact Information:  Parry Barrows

Project sponsored by private donations from every Kentucky county

FRANKFORT, Ky. – As part of the Governor’s Mansion Centennial Celebration, student-artists from Berea College have handcrafted 120 new chairs for the Governor’s Mansion. Each “County Seats Legacy Project” chair represents a Kentucky county, and is being funded by private donations from every county.

“We are so fortunate to have the unbelievably talented student-artists at Berea working on this legacy project,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “I cannot think of a better pairing than to have Kentucky artists craft furniture for our state’s executive residence. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime, entirely Kentucky project.”

Berea student-artists designed, built and upholstered each chair. Every chair frame was handcrafted using only locally-sourced and sustainable maple wood from Daniel Boone National Forest.

“The chairs or ‘seats’ that the Mansion formerly used for large-scale events were in poor condition, unsafe for guests and in desperate need of replacement,” said Ann Evans, executive director of the Governor’s Mansion. “We thought that the Centennial Celebration would be the perfect time to replace the dilapidated chairs, but because of tight and limited budgets, we had to get creative.”

Kentucky Executive Mansion Foundation Inc. (KEMFI) administrators invited each of Kentucky’s 120 counties be a part of the County Seats Legacy Project by sponsoring one of the handcrafted seats. Each county privately raised $1,000 for the project, and each chair will have a name plaque of a Kentucky county placed on it.

“Individuals, businesses and local organizations from all of our Kentucky counties stepped up to the plate for this project,” said First Lady Jane Beshear. “On behalf of KEMFI and all Kentuckians, I want to thank each donor for his or her generous contribution. Thanks to this legacy project, each Kentucky county will be represented at the Mansion for many years to come.”

For a complete list of donors, go to

For a downloadable, high resolution image of the chair, go to

Berea College students
Berea student artists are part of the college’s Student Craft Education program, which has been a vital part of the school since 1893. More than 100 students work 10 to 15 hours per week in the various departments of student crafts. Their focus is on producing works that maintain strong ties to the elemental nature of the Appalachian region – design excellence, a respect for materials and the honor that comes from hard work.

Centennial Celebration
The Governor’s Mansion Centennial Celebration will feature a range of both free and ticketed public and private events, including a “Summer Solstice Garden Celebration” with award-winning garden designer Jon Carloftis, a reception honoring the people of Frankfort and more. The Mansion will also feature several special art exhibits throughout the year, including an Audubon collection valued at more than $2 million. For a complete list of currently scheduled celebration events, click here.

All events and exhibits are sponsored through private donations to KEMFI, a 501(c)(3) organization established to undertake, promote and assist financially and otherwise the restoration, maintenance and preservation of public buildings, sites, structures, places and objects of historic significance owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

For the latest Centennial Celebration news and updates, go the official Centennial website at, visit the Governor’s Mansion Facebook page at or follow the Mansion on Twitter @GovMansion1914.