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New book details history of the Governor's Mansion and its residents

Posted: December 8, 2011 - 1:03am

Anyone strolling past the Alaska Governor’s House overlooking downtown Juneau might wonder what stories lie behind those quiet, elegant walls. A new book by Carol Murkowski Sturgulewski, published by Plaid Cabin Publishers of Anchorage, offers some satisfaction to those curious minds.

As the oldest daughter of a former Alaska governor, author Sturgulewski offers readers her unique perspective on life in the governor’s mansion with, “White House of the North: Stories from the Alaska Governor’s House.“

In documenting the history of the house, Sturgulewski spent more than five years interviewing governors, first ladies and friends from every administration since 1925. Her 112-page text is supplemented by more than 75 historic photos and documents dating back to the 1890s.

The Alaska Governor’s House, built in 1912, is one of the oldest governors’ homes in the U.S. Sturgulewski traces its history, from the first occupant, Gov. Walter E. Clark, to its current resident, Gov. Sean Parnell. Stories are not limited to politicos; readers meet many other characters over the years, from preschool children in the wartime nursery school, to the Russian gardener napping in the basement; from the chef chipping glacier ice in a dim 1940s kitchen, to love-struck couples on the verandah.

The book was produced with funding from the Friends of the Alaska Governor’s Mansion Foundation, established in 2004 to educate the public about the house and its history.

“The Governor’s House belongs to all the people of Alaska,“ said First Lady Sandy Parnell, president of the non-profit foundation, in a press release. “We’re very excited to begin celebrating the 100th anniversary of the house in 2012 with the publication of this book.“

A third-generation Alaskan, Sturgulewski was born in Sitka and has lived in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seward, Kodiak and Unalaska. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1977, and has spent more than three decades writing about her state in newspapers, magazines and guidebooks from around Alaska.

Sturgulewski also has written “Kodiak: Alaska’s Emerald Isle” and is a co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul,” the 39th book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

“White House of the North: Stories from the Alaska Governor‘s Mansion“ was published with support from the Alaska Humanities Forum, and will be released in Juneau on Friday, Dec. 9. Sturgulewski and Mrs. Parnell will be at Hearthside Books’ downtown store for a signing from noon-2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12.

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