Old Governor’s Mansion director retires
In historic grandeur the university community hosted a retirement reception this week for Jim Turner, director of the Old Governor’s Mansion at Georgia College, to celebrate his 17-year career at the mansion.
Students, faculty, staff and community members joined Turner in the mansion’s State Dining Room to reminisce and wish him farewell. His retirement is effective Friday.
“I will miss everyone I’ve worked with on campus and in our community,” said Turner, who began working at the mansion during 1995. “I’ve set out to do what the mansion required me to do. It’s time.”
As director, Turner was instrumental in the restoration and recent accreditation of the 1839 High Greek Revival mansion.
“I had three major goals for the mansion,” Turner said. “I wanted the house professionally and accurately restored, furnished and interpreted.”
Turner completed his mission earlier this year.
The American Association of Museums recognized the Old Governor’s Mansion as a national museum leader through the awarding of AAM Museum Accreditation.
The accreditation affirmed the museum meets National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums and joins the community of institutions that hold themselves accountable to excellence: The White House, High Museum of Art in Atlanta and Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins.
Following five years of intensive historical, structural and material research, the mansion began its historic restoration during November 2001, reopening during 2005.
“Jim is the consummate professional,” said Dr. Mark Pelton, associate vice president for extended university. “I’ve depended on him to oversee and guide the mansion through its restoration and accreditation projects. The results are proof he was the right person for the job.”
Turner has served as a leader and educator to his mansion staff.
Since the late 1990s, he has mentored the mansion’s current curator Matt Davis.
“Jim has guided me throughout my career,” said Davis. “I’ve benefited from his knowledge ever since I was just a tour guide for the mansion during my undergraduate studies at Georgia College. He has taught me about material culture and involved me in the mansion’s restoration, which has been a career project for me.”
Mansion gift shop manager Joy Norman worked with Turner during the past seven years.
Turner’s passion for history taught Norman to appreciate local history, she said.
“Jim is a close friend of mine,” said Norman. “I have learned the value of history in general, historical sites and Milledgeville by working with him. I’m going to miss him, but I’m glad I received the opportunity to work with a person who genuinely appreciates history and preserving it.”