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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's governor and the first lady are in the public eye every day. But there's a lot you might not know about the first family. Jane Beshear recently gave WDRB an exclusive tour of the mansion, giving us unprecedented access to what the public has never seen.
Jane Beshear never thought life would lead her here, to the executive mansion as the first lady of Kentucky. She and the future governor met at the University of Kentucky on a blind date.
"I don't know if it was just fate or love at first sight, but we never dated anybody else," she said.
She shares a picture from the school newspaper that the governor saw before their first date. He says it sealed the deal before they even met and later penned this message, which says "Jane, I've loved you from the very first time I ever saw you."
"He says now that he thought he made a really good choice by making that phone call. It's a fun time to look back at that picture and remember that," she joked.
Their two sons are grown with children of their own, but there's one family member that never leaves Beshear's side: her dog, Victory (Tory for short).
"I've always had dogs all my life," Beshear said. "And when we moved here it was a real change of lifestyle for us ... and I was determined that we could have a dog here."
Life is much different in the executive mansion than on the Beshear's farm near Lexington.
Beshear admits, "It's a little interesting living upstairs. We came from a farm, that's where our home is and we still retreat there on weekends...it's very private there. Here it's very different, you live among a lot of people."
There's a staff of 10, including chefs who prepare food for the Beshears if they are home, and for events at the mansion. Another person on the staff is executive director, Ann Evans, who says she makes sure the huge place runs like a well-oiled machine. And Boro Rudic, the Houseman, has served several administrations. Think Carson on Downtown Abbey. His job is similar to that of a butler.
"It's like a head server -- to maintain the top floor and keep it in top condition, and sometimes take out the first dog," Rudic said.
He knows the first family well, including their habits and tastes: "The governor likes a very extra dry martini, sometimes, not very often. We just call it the special."
The Beshears seem easy to please. The kitchen staff will serve them lunch if they're home, but Jane Beshear says the governor only eats once a day, at dinner.
"I don't think it's the healthiest thing and I've tried to change it for many years, but that's the way he likes to operate. He's been healthy all these years so I guess its working," Beshear said.
The staff is well-versed on what the first family likes to eat.
"The governor likes steak for dinner, the first lady is a salad person, she likes lots of salads," said Rudic.
Like many first ladies before her, Beshear has put her own stamp on the mansion, including the art in the mansion project. Why buy artwork, when you can feature rotating works on loan from museums across the state?
"Everything has to relate to Kentucky. It's either Kentucky artists or the subject has to relate to Kentucky," she said.
Visitors will never see the same artwork twice on the main floor. But there's one place that's never on tour.
The public has access to the first floor, but for the first time, we're taking you behind the ropes for a look at something only the first family has access to -- their private residence.
For security reasons, our video cameras are not allowed, only photos. But when you climb the stairs, you walk right into the Beshear's private retreat. This is the great room where they start every morning bright and early.
"We're early risers. I'm up by at least six and we spend time drinking coffee and catching up on news and reading papers," Beshear said.
Breakfast is prepared in the small kitchen.
Artwork from the Beshear's grandchildren decorates the fridge and pictures of the family line every table. Another passion also becomes obvious. Equestrian magazines and pictures of Beshear with her beloved horses are scattered around the residence.
"I've been a rider all my life and probably about 25 years ago got involved in eventing. It's a phase of riding with three disciplines: dressage, stadium jumping and cross country. I enjoy it, I'm a very competitive person," Jane Beshear said.
Her passion for horses led to another favorite initiative she launched as first lady -- Horses and Hope. It provides breast cancer screenings for women who work in the horse industry, who are often uninsured
"I guess Steve and I have always felt that our job is to make a bit of a difference in our time we're given on earth, and I hope that's what we've been able to do, both of us in our own ways."
Staff members, including the executive director, cherish the Beshear family. Ann Evans' eyes fill with tears when asked what they're like day to day, and what it will be like when they leave office.
"They're so kind, and I mean, we're all family so it's going to be really, really hard. When I think about it, I actually get a little teary thinking about it because it's like leaving your family," Evans said.
Jane Beshear echoes that sentiment when asked what she'll miss most when the governor leaves office in 2015.
"We look at everyone here as part of our family and when the term is over what I'm going to miss the most are the people who are with us day in and day out."