Questions and answers with John P.Gill

Q. How did you get the idea to do this type of book?

A. Governor and Mrs. Beebe asked me to write a history of the mansion and I determined that the type of book would be one which provided insight into what it is like to have a private home in a public building. I especially wanted to let school children know what it was like to live in the mansion from the view of children who were school-age many years ago. The book is a combination of oral history and document research.

Q. What things in your background helped as you assembled the book?

A. As a trial lawyer I have spent many hours gathering facts by questioning people. That approach provided an outline of issues I wanted to review with each person that had been an occupant of the mansion or worked or visited there.

Q. How did you compile all of this information on the Governor’s Mansion?

A. The information was compiled from many sources including approximately 80 interviews, records and files of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, the archives of the Arkansas History Commission, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and various universities and museums across the state. Also, I used the personal photographs of many individuals.

Q. Why should readers be interested in this book?

A. It is more than a documentary history as it includes oral histories and private family photographs.

Q. Did you learn anything new about Arkansas history while you worked on the book?

A. I learned a lot about the experiences of families living in the mansion and the debate over its initial location.

Q. What is the role of the Governor’s Mansion as it relates to the general public?

A. The governor's mansion is a public building owned by the people of Arkansas that is provided to the first family during the governor's tenure. Although it is a private residence, it is also a public place where thousands of visitors come to see the historic interior, visit the gardens and dine and hold public meetings.