At first look, the stately dwelling with inexperienced window shutters may belong to anybody.

However the 128-year-old home at Quantity One Observatory Circle is the designated dwelling of the vice chairman of the USA and the place Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are set to reside for at the very least the subsequent 4 years.

Situated about two miles from the White Home and adjoining to a number of embassies, the secluded dwelling sits on a 72-acre plot referred to as the USA Naval Observatory. It’s not open to the general public.

Right here’s what you must know in regards to the residence that seven vice presidents have known as dwelling.

The 9,000-square-foot Queen Anne-style home, with a library, basement kitchen and several other bedrooms, was designed by the Washington architect Leon E. Dessez. It was in-built 1893 and was initially meant for the superintendent of the USA Naval Observatory, a scientific company that moved to the site the same year from its authentic dwelling in Washington’s Foggy Backside neighborhood. Beginning within the Twenties and for the subsequent 5 a long time, the home served because the residence for the chiefs of naval operations and their households.

Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. was the last Navy official to live in the house, which was designated as the house for vice presidents in 1974.

Credit score…Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

Historically, vice presidents had lived in their very own properties or in accommodations whereas in workplace. However the want for the second in command to have his personal residence dates to at the very least 1923, when the spouse of Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri supplied a newly constructed dwelling because the official residence of the vice chairman, according to The New York Times. The home was described as “imposing” and valued at $500,000.

Calvin Coolidge, who served as vice chairman from 1921 to 1923, lived at a lodge throughout his tenure and later said in his autobiography that an “official residence with appropriate upkeep ought to be offered for the Vice-President” and that the place “ought to have a settled and everlasting habitation and a spot, no matter the monetary skill of its momentary occupant.”

Charles Denyer, the writer of “Number One Observatory Circle” and a cybersecurity and nationwide safety knowledgeable, mentioned the Secret Service was hampered by the dearth of an official handle for the vice chairman as a result of safety protocols couldn’t be established if every residence was completely different.

“It was a really fascinating scenario that the second strongest individual in the USA of America, one of the vital highly effective folks on the planet, didn’t have a delegated momentary dwelling,” Mr. Denyer mentioned.

In March 1966, the Home Public Works Committee accredited the development of a three-story mansion for $750,000 on the grounds of the Naval Observatory for the vice chairman. The following month, President Lyndon B. Johnson postponed the construction till financial circumstances improved, however the home was by no means constructed. On the time, Vice President Hubert Humphrey was dwelling in his own residence in Chevy Chase, Md.

After years of spending thousands on security measures on the personal properties of vice presidents — $81,000 for Gerald Ford’s dwelling in Virginia and $245,000 on Spiro T. Agnew’s dwelling in Maryland amongst others — Congress designated Quantity One Observatory Circle as “the official momentary residence” of the vice chairman in 1974. (The “momentary” designation nonetheless stays.) It was the primary time in historical past {that a} dwelling was offered for the second in command. On the time, lawmakers accredited $315,000 for repairs, renovations and a few furnishings.

“It’s form of a disgrace that we waited as lengthy we did to offer the vice chairman a house of their very own,” mentioned Mike Purdy, a presidential historian and writer of “101 Presidential Insults.” “However in some methods that’s reflective of the insignificant position of the vice presidency because it was seen for thus a few years.”

After the house’s official designation in 1974, one other three years glided by earlier than a vice chairman moved in, according to the White House. Vice President Gerald Ford acceded to the presidency earlier than he may use it, and his personal vice chairman, Nelson Rockefeller, had his own residence, utilizing Quantity One Observatory Circle solely as an entertaining house.

Below President Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale was the primary vice chairman to reside within the dwelling, beginning in 1977.

“Paradoxically and in parallel because the workplace of the vice presidency has grown in significance through the years, significantly with the election of Vice President Walter Mondale in 1976, the house has grown significantly additionally by way of facilities and safety upgrades,” Mr. Denyer mentioned. “Vice President Mondale grew to become in all probability essentially the most consequential vice chairman ever to that date. Carter concerned him in virtually the whole lot.”

Credit score…White Home photograph by David Bohrer

The Navy nonetheless maintains the house, Mr. Denyer mentioned, whereas the Vice President’s Residence Basis raises personal funds for any redecorating or upgrades to the house.

Every vice chairman and his household have contributed to the evolution of the house, Mr. Purdy mentioned, noting that George H.W. Bush, who was vice chairman from 1981 to 1989, constructed a horseshoe pit and a quarter-mile observe on the property. His successor, Dan Quayle, put in a swimming pool, which years later received praise from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Vice President Mike Pence and his spouse, Karen, have hosted many private dinners with donors and corporate executives however have made minimal modifications to the house, Mr. Denyer mentioned. In 2017, Mrs. Pence unveiled a beehive on the residence.

On Jan. 20, Ms. Harris will become the first woman, first Black individual, and first individual of Asian descent to be sworn in because the vice chairman of the USA. And if historical past is an indicator, she and Mr. Emhoff will put their very own mark on the home.

“Take into consideration this, who has lived in that dwelling for the higher a part of 45-plus years, white males, and right here comes this fully completely different individual,” Mr. Denyer mentioned, including that Ms. Harris’s arrival will put a “a lot wanted highlight” on the house.

Eyes may even be on Mr. Emhoff, who will tackle a place that traditionally has been defined by internet hosting and adorning for the vacation, in addition to strong work like caring for army households and growing wholesome consuming habits for kids.

In a video on Twitter, Mr. Emhoff mentioned he was honored and humbled to be the primary man to carry the position and mentioned he would make it his personal. “So, I do wish to set an instance for these sooner or later who can look again on the manner I’ve approached it and hopefully that’ll assist them as nicely,” he mentioned.


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