Where Does US Vice President Live and Facts About Building Near White House
As Joe Biden was sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States earlier this week, he took up residence in one of the most famous houses in the world.
Here is everything you need to know about the VP’s lesser known, but still just as important, address.
Where does the US Vice President Live: Histoty and TimeLine
|Photo: Getty Images|
The Vice President’s official residence is Number One Observatory Circle, a property on the northeast grounds of the US Naval Observatory (USNO) in Washington, DC.
Located roughly two and a half miles from the White House, Number One was built in 1893, and was originally inhabited by the superintendent of the USNO.
In 1923, the serving chief of naval operations (CNO) liked the house so much that he took over it for himself, and Number One would serve as the residence of the CNO until 1974.
In that year, Congress authorised the building’s transformation to an official residence for the vice president.
Technically, it was only supposed to be a temporary residence for the VP, and by law the house is the "official temporary residence of the vice president of the United States.”
It would take three years for the first vice president to move in on a full time basis.
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was the first to make use of the property, but even then, he only really used the home for entertainment, as he already had a well-secured residence nearby.
The first full time resident was Vice President Walter Mondale, who moved in for a four year stay in 1977. Since then, every vice president has resided at Number One Observatory Circle.
President Joe Biden has of course lived at Number One in the past, being Barack Obama’s VP between 2009 and 2017.
What is the address of the US Vice President's Residence?
The Office of the Vice President serves the Vice President in the performance of the many detailed activities incident to his immediate office. 1800 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20502 Phone, 202–395–5084.
|Office of the Vice President of the United States |
Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, DC 20501
Assistant to the Vice President, Chief of Staff to
the Vice President, and Counsel
DAVID S. ADDINGTON
Assistant to the Vice President for National
Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President CLAIRE O’DONNELL
Where Does Kamala Harris Live: One Observatory Circle History in Detail
Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff are set to become the eighth permanent residents of Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the vice president.
Built in 1893, the three-story hilltop mansion is located on the secluded grounds of the US Naval Observatory, where scientists study the sun, moon, and stars for navigational purposes.
|Every vice president since 1977 has lived at Number One Observatory Circle.|
For 30 years, the building served as the home of the superintendent of the US Naval Observatory. Then in 1923, it became the official residence for the chief of naval operations.
In 1974, Congress designated the house as the home of the vice president.
But the first vice president didn't move in until three years later when Walter Mondale was elected second-in-command under President Jimmy Carter, historian Charles Denyer writes in his definitive book about the residence.
The ground floor of Number One Observatory Circle consists of a reception hall, living room, sitting room, dining room, garden room, lounges, pantry kitchen, and veranda, according to Denyer.
On the second floor are the master suite, another bedroom, a study, and a den. The third floor used to be servants' quarters, but now has four bedrooms for family members.
Every vice president has lived there since Mondale, bringing their own unique touch to the home's 9,150 square feet.
When Al Gore's family lived there, they would play games like catch, Frisbee, and touch football in the front yard. The residence is set on 12 of the Observatory's 72 acres.
In 2009, Joe Biden let it slip that the vice president's residence was home to a bunker.
While Biden's team refuted the claim, neighbors backed up the story with complaints about mysterious and loud construction sounds in the wake of 9/11 when Cheney lived at the residence.
Just like the White House, Number One Observatory Circle gets decked out for the holidays. The Pences posed for official Christmas portraits, like the one here, in what appears to be the home's sitting room.
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What is the House Like?
The property itself is a three-story brick house, and is relatively small compared to the President’s dwellings, with just 850 m2 of floor space.
On the first floor you’ll find a dining room, garden room, living room, lounges, pantry kitchen, reception hall, sitting room, and veranda.
The second floor contains an additional bedroom, a den, a master suite, and a study.
The attic now features four bedrooms, having once been the servants' quarters, and the main kitchen is located in the basement.
What Security Does the House Have?
|Photo: Associated Press|
It's long been rumoured that the property contains a secure underground bunker, which may be able to withstand nuclear blasts, although the exact details of Number One’s security remain shrouded in mystery.
In 2002 just over a year following the 11 September attacks neighbours of the property complained of loud blasts and construction noises, which were loud enough to shake pictures and mirrors from the walls.
Those who complained about the disruptive noise received a letter, telling them that, “due to its sensitive nature in support of national security and homeland defence, project specific information is classified and cannot be released."
In fact, in 2009, many believe Joe Biden – then vice president to Barack Obama – revealed the existence of an underground "9/11" bunker beneath the house.
Biden's press secretary tried to clear up any confusion, telling the media that Biden was not talking about an underground facility, but instead was referring to “an upstairs work space in the residence”, which Biden understood was frequently used by vice presidents before him.
Fun Facts about the Vice President's Residence
Unlike the White House, the vice presidential residence is not accessible to the public, one of the reasons the public knows little about where the president's No. 2 lives. A new book, Number One Observatory Circle, could help change that.
Here are some of the fun facts author Charles Denyer found about the house and the people who lived there.
Although Nelson Rockefeller never lived in the residence, using it only for social functions, the bed in the master bedroom was the talk of the town. The vice president to then-president Gerald Ford personally chose the $35,000 “cage bed” by the surrealistic artist Max Ernst. Barbara Walters described it in a book as “covered in mink, watched over at the head and foot by medallions of the sun and moon” with trapdoors to hide lamps, telephones and electrical gadgets.
But while Rockefeller was willing to leave it behind for his successors, he had no takers.
“Mrs. Bush politely said, `You’re welcome anytime; We don’t need the bed,’” Denyer said.
Eleanor Mondale’s ghost
Convinced she was being visited by a ghost one night, Walter Mondale’s teenage daughter Eleanor called the Secret Service to report a man in her room. When the agents burst in with guns drawn, Eleanor explained it was a fleshless man she’d sensed. “They requested I never do that again,” Eleanor recalled in a 1998 interview.
(Years later, Dick Cheney’s granddaughter would inadvertently summon the Secret Service by mistaking a panic button in the bathroom for the way to flush the toilet.)
Secret Service pranks
Secret Service agents were not above pranking each other during the long, and often tedious hours they spent protecting the Second Family. One agent, for example, convinced another it was perfectly fine to do his laundry at the residence. That came as a surprise to Barbara Bush, who at the time was Second Lady under Ronald Reagan, nonetheless found it amusing.
The agents, however, had Barbara Bush’s back when, clad in a bathrobe, she took her dog for an early morning walk not knowing the Soviet foreign minister was about to arrive for a breakfast meeting. Alerted by a helpful agent, Bush avoiding the waiting photographers by sneaking back into the residence and crawling to her closet to get to her clothes.
Enjoying the privacy
One of the main reasons vice presidents and their families enjoyed the residence is the relative privacy and seclusion it offered. Wanting to keep a low profile even when ordering pizza, the Quayle family appropriated the name of one of their Secret Service agents, Joe Petro. The tradition stuck. Even after leaving public office, the Quayles still used Petro’s name when ordering pizza.
After the Bushes developed Graves’ disease, and their dog also acquired an autoimmune disease, water tests were conducted at the various homes they had lived before moving into the White House. And the eight years they’d spent at One Observatory Circle were the longest they’d lived anywhere. The water testing made the then-occupants, the Quayles, nervous. But a connection was never made.
Another mystery was the identity of the “undisclosed location” Dick Cheney would routinely slip off to. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, neighbors of One Observatory Circle complained about loud blasts, leading to speculation that an underground bunker was being constructed. Years later, Biden described being shown a hideaway when getting a tour of the residence. His spokeswoman later said Biden was not talking about an underground facility. But Denyer said the existence of the bunker is “widely known.”
Foreign dignitaries, political leaders, media heavyweights, and artists are among the luminaries who have socialized at the residence. When Andy Warhol attended a gathering Joan Mondale held for modern artists, the vice president’s press secretary got the bright idea of asking him to sign a can of Campbell’s tomato soup in honor of one of Warhol’s iconic works. Not being able to find tomato soup, however, the steward brought instead a can of mushroom. Warhol still signed it.
Pope John Paul II stopped by during his 1979 visit to Washington, but as a quid pro quo. The pope was staying at the Apostolic Delegation across the street from the Naval Observatory, and Mondale’s staff offered the pope the use of the residence’s helicopter pad in exchange for stopping to greet Mondale and giving the US vice president his blessing.
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