The Governor's mansion on Summit Avenue. File photo by Richard Sennott.

The Governor's mansion on Summit Avenue. File photo by Richard Sennott.

 Don't you love it when someone has a birthday and instead of receiving presents, they give them? Ok, that hardly ever happens, but in the case of the Minnesota Governor's Residence, it's true.

The stately old mansion at 1006 Summit Av. in St. Paul is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2012 with a year-long celebration. And part of that celebration involves books--books for children.

"The Governor's Mouse," a picture book by two Minnesotans--Kristin Parrish and Kirsten Sevig--will go to every elementary school in the state. In the book, a mouse takes readers through the house, from wrought-iron front gate to back garden. He explains the history of the house, how it was built in 1912 for $57,000 -- $7,000 for the land, and $50,000 for the building -- and was later donated to the state by the original owners, the Irvine family.

 

Peg Meier and Coco's daughter, Vicki Ford, at the book launch of Coco's diary last April. Photo by Laurie Hertzel

Peg Meier and Coco's daughter, Vicki Ford, at the book launch of Coco's diary last April. Photo by Laurie Hertzel

 Which brings us to the second book. "Through No Fault of My Own" is the diary of young Coco Irvine, who was 13 when she recorded her madcap and hilarious adventures in that house. Former Strib writer Peg Meier discovered the diary at the Minnesota Historical Society, and wrote an introduction and an afterword, and the charming book was published last year by the University of Minnesota Press.

 

 A copy of Coco's book will be given to each middle school in the state. A play based on Coco's diary will premiere at Minnesota's History Theatre on March 3.

 

 (And as I should have mentioned earlier--the money for these books comes from the 1006 Summit Avenue Society, a nonprofit that was set up during Al Quie's administration to pay for the upkeep of the house. The nonprofit is paying for the 100th birthday festivities.)

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