The Executive Mansion Kitchen

The Executive Mansion Kitchen

The cottage outside of the Governor's Mansion where the restored kitchen is located
The cottage outside of the Governor’s Mansion where the restored kitchen is located
Virginia’s Executive Mansion is the oldest governor’s residence in the United States which continues to serve its original purpose. Every day, the mansion welcomes groups, ranging from school children to international dignitaries, who explore its historic spaces. The kitchen dependency, constructed in 1813 and adjacent to the Mansion, will be restored and interpreted to tell the stories of the individuals, including enslaved persons, who served Governors and their families in the 19th-century.

Educational Programs and Exhibits

Educational Programs and Exhibits

Educational exhibits on display in the Capitol extension
Educational exhibits on display in the Capitol extension
This campaign will fund the development of programs and interactive experiences aimed at educating current and future generations on the ideals of liberty, representative government, and civic engagement. In addition, the projects will remind visitors of the pivotal role Virginia has played in the founding of America’s form of government. Focus areas will include significant milestones in Virginia history, representative government in action, and the compelling stories of influential, though often less celebrated, individuals.

Capitol Square Fair a Success!


Virginia Capitol Square Preservation Council was pleased to host the Virginia Capitol Square Fair, a community outreach and education event on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The event was a partnership with non-profit and public educators to offer families and visitors an array of history and conservation learning opportunities and to explore Virginia’s history and the natural environment. This event was free and open to the public and located on the historic grounds of the State Capitol to celebrate the Bicentennial of Capitol Square. Free parking was provided for all visitors.

Partners across the commonwealth highlighted their important work by providing engaging, SOL-based activities for children and families. While this event was focused on the outdoors, the Virginia State Capitol was open for tours and self-guided opportunities. Visitors had the opportunity to talk with Thomas Jefferson on why he designed the Capitol the way he did, hear Patrick Henry’s famous speech, and walk the historic grounds with Maggie Walker. Along with our special guests, visitors participated in a Capitol Police equipment and K9 demonstration, discovered how to maintain a healthy habitat in their own backyard, and searched for artifacts while learning the power of archaeology to uncover our past. We sincerely thank the following organizations for providing exciting activities: The Valentine Museum, National Park Service, Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Department of Historic Resources, Department of Forestry, Children’s Museum of Richmond, John Marshall House, James Monroe Museum, St. John’s, Montpeleier, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Henricus Historical Park, Preservation Virginia, Commonwealth Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Wilton House Museum, Fairfield Foundation, Library of Virginia, The Division Capitol Police Commonwealth of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia Executive Mansion.

We also thank all students, teachers, and visitors who came to enjoy the Virginia Capitol Square Fair.
Please contact the Capitol Square Preservation Council Education Coordinator, Maggie Jackson, with any questions by phone at (804) 225-8051 or by email.

Capitol Square is part of the Richmond Garden Trail

Among the oldest in the nation, this 12-acre park is home to the National Historic Landmark Virginia State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson, the oldest purpose-built U.S executive mansion still serving as a governor’s residence, and many monuments and memorials. Walk winding paths in a landscape that has both seen and shaped American history.


Garden secret: This park has an empty crypt. The George Washington Equestrian Monument was to be the President’s final resting place, but he remains buried at his Mount Vernon home.

Learn more about the Richmond Garden Trail

Hours and Days of Operation

The Capitol building is open to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. Self-Guided tours are available during operating hours each day our Capitol Visitors Brochure will help you get started.

Free one-hour guided tours Monday through Saturday are available beginning by 10:00 a.m. for walk-in visitors (or 9:00 a.m. for groups by appointment) and continue throughout the day, with the last tour offered at 4:00 p.m. On Sunday, guided tours are available beginning at 1:00 p.m., with the last tour offered at 4:00 p.m.

In addition, self-guided tours are available during operating hours each day.

The Capitol Building is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Capitol Use Policies

The Virginia Capitol, one of the most historic structures in the Western Hemisphere, every year welcomes thousands of Virginia citizens and visitors from around the country and throughout the world. The Virginia Capitol is unique among historic sites because it also is a working government building. It is important to respect and safeguard the historic nature of the Capitol as well as preserve the public’s access to their government without impeding the day-to-day operations of state government and the conduct of the people’s business.

In accordance with local, state, and federal laws, rules, and regulations, interim rules regarding the Capitol and the House and Senate galleries have been established jointly by the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate at the direction of the General Assembly’s Committee on Joint Rules.

Capitol, Gallery and Mezzanine Use Policy – House

Capitol, Gallery and Mezzanine Use Policy – Senate

Groups interested in holding an event on Capitol Square will need a permit. Please see the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Division of Engineering and Buildings (DEB) webpage for information on obtaining these permits.


Dining and Catering

Capitol Cafe & Shop

The Virginia Shop and Meriwether’s café, both conveniently located in the Capitol Extension, welcomes visitors to enhance their visit to Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol with a charming keepsake and a tasty treat. The Virginia Shop offers a unique selection of gifts inspired by our Capitol and our Commonwealth. Meriwether’s café offers a distinctive menu, made to order using the freshest ingredients, of sandwiches, salads, sides and sweet treats.

The Virginia Shop at the Capitol
The Virginia Shop at the Capitol

The Virginia Shop at the Capitol (804)698-7661 is located in the Capitol extension. Gift store hours are Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The store is closed on Sunday. They offer a wide variety of state seal gifts, jewelry, books and more. If you are hosting a group trip to the Capitol, you can order gift bags for your guests in advance. Gift bags range from $2 per bag to $10 per bag.

After Exploring Mr. Jefferson's Capitol, stop by Meriwether's, for a made to order sandwich.
After Exploring Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol, stop by Meriwether’s, for a made to order sandwich.

Meriwether’s at the Capitol offers several options and venues for guests visiting the Capitol.

The Capitol Café located in the Capitol extension is open to the public, Monday through Friday. Guests can enjoy a meal in the cafe, which does have limited seating, or use Meriwether’s take-out service to enjoy on the lawn of the Capitol. Choices range from soup, salads, sandwiches and daily specials for lunch to snacks and fresh baked cookies. Or try a
specialty coffee drink for that afternoon pick-me-up, brewed with locally roasted, fair trade coffee. The cafe can be reached by phone at (804)698-7438

Breakfast Service Hours: open for breakfast beginning Thursday, July 20, 2017. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. each weekday.

Lunch Service Hours: Lunch service will begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue through 3:00 p.m.

Hours During the Legislative Session: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or half an hour after the adjournment of the General Assembly

Meriwether’s at the Suntrust Building

The cafeteria in the General Assembly Building (GAB) closed on June 30, 2017 due to the legislature’s move from the GAB to the Pocahontas Building. The cafeteria will reopen in a new location in the SunTrust Building (919 East Main Street, 3rdFloor – across the street from the Pocahontas Building) in October, 2017.

Hours – 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

During the Legislative Session – 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Due to the GAB Cafeteria closing, the transition to the new space, and the impact this will have on our exclusive caterer, Meriwether-Godsey, spaces in the Capitol will be unavailable to be reserved for special and after-hours events between June 19, 2017 and October 31, 2017. Special events sponsored by legislative groups will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You may contact Jennifer Welch with the Senate of Virginia at (804) 698-7460 or or Jay Braxton with the House of Delegates at (804) 698-1552 or for additional information.


Handicap parking

Private vehicles with handicap tags are able to park and unload passengers on Bank Street between 9th and 10th streets, near the new public entrance. There is no public parking on the Capitol Square grounds.

Motorcoach Parking

Three or four spaces are presently available on Bank Street between 10th and 12th Streets. Buses should not stay on Bank Street longer than 2 hours. As of 2008 the former “Bus Loop” behind Old City Hall is no longer available to school or tour buses visiting the Capitol. Overflow bus parking is available at the Virginia War Memorial, on 2nd Street south of Spring Street. Group leaders will need to be in phone contact with their drivers.

Public Parking

There are four free general public spaces (1 hour) on the north side of Bank Street, between 9th and 10th Streets. A limited number of metered public parking spaces (2 hours) are located on the west side of 10th Street, between Main and Bank Streets, on Bank Street, between Governor and 14th Streets, on the south side of Main Street, between 9th and 12th Streets and on 12th Street between Main and Bank Streets.

Pay parking lots and decks are nearby on 8th and Grace Street and 7th and Marshall Streets. Downloadable maps of nearby parking lots and decks, as well as rates, are available via Ridefinders Downtown Commuter Guide web page.

If you have any questions about parking lots in the capitol vicinity, please call the Capitol Tour Desk at (804) 698-1788 or email the Tour Desk at

Capitol Entrances and Exits – Bank Street

Public Entrance

Commercial tour groups, school groups and the general public will enter the restored and expanded Capitol from a new entrance plaza near 10th and Bank streets.

Street Traffic Patterns:

Bank Street has become a two-way thoroughfare between 9th and 14th streets, in order to make the new public entrance more accessible.