Where does the vice president live?
People are curious about the question. Since Walter Mondale, every Vice President has lived on the U.S. Naval Observatory, part of the White House complex.
One Observatory Circle in northwestern Washington, DC, was built in 1893 to construct the white nineteenth-century house. In 1923, the chief of naval operations evicted the superintendent of the USNO so he could move into the house, which was initially intended for him. The cost of securing private residences for Vice Presidents and their families has increased significantly over the years. Congress finally agreed to refurbish the Naval Observatory house as a residence for the Vice President in 1974.
Number One Observatory Circle was vacant for three years before a Vice President moved in. Before he could use the house, Gerald Ford’s Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was the only one to use it, as he became President before he could use it. Vice President Walter Mondale was the first to occupy the residence. Since then, families of former vice presidents Bush, Quayle, Gore, Cheney, Biden, and Pence have lived in the house.
Vice Presidents have hosted a wide range of guests, including foreign leaders and dignitaries, in the White House residence. The Naval Observatory, on the other hand, has continued to function. Scientists keep tabs on the sun, moon, planets, and a few select stars while calculating and publishing the ephemerides necessary for precise navigation.
The Past of the House
According to Deez, it was built by a Philadelphia-based construction firm and originally intended to be the home of the superintendent of the Naval Observatory and a “gracious country house,” as Cleere put it.
There is a large reception hall, a sitting room, an enclosed sun porch, a dining and pantry area on the ground floor, and two additional offices on the north side of the house. Four additional rooms on the third floor were initially used as servants’ quarters and storage areas but have since been converted into two bedrooms and a study on the second floor. There is a kitchen, laundry room, and additional storage in the basement.
From 1893 to 1927, the house was home to a dozen observatory superintendents. In 1928, Congress finally passed a law giving the mansion to Admiral Charles Frederick Hughes, the current Chief of Naval Operations, who held the position since 1917. (known as “Handlebars” because of his lush moustache). According to Cleere’s account, he moved into the house the following year.
However, vice presidents were required to find their housing. Most people lived in their own homes or stayed in hotels as Calvin Coolidge did during the Warren G. Harding presidency. After Harding died in 1923, Coolidge became President, and he may have been the first to advocate the idea of giving the vice president an official residence. That’s what Coolidge wrote in his memoirs: “The great office should have an established and permanent place, regardless of the financial ability” of its temporary occupant.
A new home for the vice president was authorised by Congress in the mid-1960s, at the cost of $750,000 (about $6 million in today’s dollars), after the vice president’s residence was outfitted with adequate security and communications equipment. After the Vietnam war, costs rose; Humphrey requested that the project be postponed as an example of “prudent budget practises,” and the new house was never built, according to an Indianapolis Star article published in 2017.
While this was going on, the federal government continued to spend a lot of money on furnishing the homes of vice presidents. Construction crews descended on Gerald R. Ford’s Alexandria, Virginia, home after President Nixon selected him to replace Spiro Agnew as vice president when Agnew resigned in 1973 to install bullet-resistant windows. Because Ford replaced Nixon, the retrofits were only required for nine months.
According to Cleere’s book “The Admiral House,” Congress eventually decided on a less expensive option: the Admiral House. With the passage of legislation by Congress in 1974, it was removed from its jurisdiction and renamed the vice president’s home. It was moved to Tingey House, an 1804 Georgian-style mansion in the Washington Navy Yard.
However, the change didn’t take place immediately. Rockefeller never lived at Number One Observatory Circle, but he used it for official functions. The mansion’s first occupant was Vice President Walter Mondale, who moved in in 1977.
The vice president’s residence has undergone several changes over the years. According to The Hill, Dan Quayle, who served as vice president under George H.W. Bush, built a swimming pool. This year, Karen Pence, the wife of Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, added a beehive to remind the importance of honeybees to agriculture.
In January 2021, Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff didn’t immediately move into their new residence following her swearing-in as vice president. Blair House, the White House guest residence located at 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue, was used as a temporary home while repairs and maintenance were carried out.
Where does the vice president live while in office?
Additionally, the Vice President and his staff have a set of offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), located next to the White House grounds. When the EEOB housed the State, Navy, and War Departments, this office, known as the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office, served as the Navy Secretary’s Office. The Vice President currently uses the office for meetings and press interviews.
Between 1879 and 1921, sixteen Secretaries of the Navy were employed at this location. When a Christmas Eve fire broke out in the West Wing of the White House, President Herbert Hoover’s office had to be relocated. Vice Presidents have occupied this room since 1960, except Hubert Humphrey. It has been a ceremonial office since its restoration in the 1980s.
The room was designed by William McPherson, a well-known Boston decorator and painter. Hand-painted allegorical Navy Department symbols adorned the room’s walls and ceiling in typical Victorian colours. There are two original black marble fireplaces on the mahogany, white maple and cherry floor.
The chandeliers in the room are exact replicas of the original gasoliers from the turn of the century. These historical fixtures could run on both gas and electricity with the gas globes on top and the electric lights below.
Vice President’s desk
The Vice President’s Desk may be the most exciting piece of furniture in the room. A piece of the White House’s history, Theodore Roosevelt first used this desk in 1902. Presidents Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Eisenhower worked at this desk. When President Truman selected it in 1945, it was kept in storage until then. The desk was used by Vice President Johnson and each subsequent Vice President. Various people have left their signatures on the top drawer’s interior since the 1940s.