AUSTIN (KXAN) - Texas's first lady Anita Perry met members of the press in the Conservatory, her favorite room in the Governor's Mansion. Its yellow walls and multiple windows make it a room she said is warm, happy and less formal than the other historic rooms in the mansion. The Conservatory also holds the piece of historic furniture she loves the most in the home -- a large secretary.
"It's my favorite piece and it houses the gifts that former governors have left here and some very memorable gifts are there," said Perry.
Thankfully, those gifts were already in storage when the flames overtook the mansion four years ago. The Perrys had already moved out, too, for renovations that were planned.
Going back into the Governor's Mansion after the fire and seeing the ashes full of memories was tough for Anita Perry, she recalled.
"Well, you know, it was very emotional for me and I know I cried tears," she said on Wednesday in an interview after the tour. "I did. I cried for a couple of months. I think about it, because the house was so grand and who knew when you moved out that it was going to burn?"
Perry led the effort to raise money to restore the mansion. The state legislature appropriated $21.5 million and the rest came from private donations -- from big companies and school children.
"This home is the third most visited historical site in the state behind the Alamo and the Capitol," she said. "So many people wanted to see it brought back, and I'm so glad we had the support of so many people and the legislature."
Perry told KXAN News the First Family should move back into the Governor's Mansion by the end of July, and public tours should begin again nearer the end of the summer. She said the restoration was never about the Perry family but rather about the importance of restoring history.
"I'm excited about getting the family here, because it is so much our home, but even more so than that -- I'm excited the home is going to be open to the thousands of people who come through and see it and the school children in the spring," she said.
"Truly, I'm not sure who came up with Texas' Front Porch, but it truly is, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to see and share with it and know that we love Texas and we're proud of what we did. All came together," said Perry. "Without everyone, we wouldn't be here today."
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