Inside Number One Observatory Circle, the often overlooked but stunning residence where every vice president has lived since 1977

  • Number 1 Observatory Circle in Washington, DC is the official residence of the vice president.
  • Located on the grounds of the Naval Observatory about 2.5 miles north of the White House, it is hidden from public view by shrubbery and no public tours are offered.
  • Every vice president since 1977 has lived in the home.
  • Take a look inside the private complex, where Vice President Mike Pence and his family current reside and where Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his family lived previously.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Everyone knows that the president of the United States lives in the White House, but far fewer know that the office of the vice president comes with an official residence of its own.

Number One Observatory Circle, located on the grounds of the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, has been the official residence of the vice president since 1974. Vice President Mike Pence and his family currently live in the private complex, but Walter Mondale, who served as the vice president under Jimmy Carter, was the very first VP to call it home in 1977.

George H.W. Bush followed in 1981, succeeded by Dan Quayle in 1989, Al Gore in 1993, Dick Cheney in 2001, Joe Biden in 2009, and Mike Pence in 2017.

Here's a look inside the historic residence:

The private residence at Number One Observatory Circle was built in 1893. It's just 2.5 miles from the White House, but feels worlds away.

Source: The White House

It is located on the grounds of the US Naval Observatory, where scientists study the sun, moon, and stars for navigational purposes.

Source: The White House

For 30 years, it served as the home of the superintendent of the US Naval Observatory. Then in 1923, it became the official residence for the head of the Navy.

Source: The White House

In 1974, Congress designated the house as the home of the vice president.

Source: The White House

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.

Source: The White House

The ground floor has a reception hall, living room, sitting room, dining room, garden room, lounges, pantry kitchen, and veranda.

Source: The White House Museum

On the second floor is the master suite, another bedroom, a study, and a den. The attic used to be servants' quarters, but now has four bedrooms for children. The main kitchen is in the basement.

Source: The Washington Post

Every vice president has lived there since Mondale, bringing their own unique touch to the home's 9,150 square feet.

Source: The White House, Number One Observatory Circle

"It really changed from one administration to another," Charles Denyer, a historian and author of a book about the residence, told USA Today in November 2017.

Source: USA Today

George H.W. Bush installed a horseshoe pit on the grounds when he was vice president.

Source: USA Today

When Dick Cheney and his family moved in, they decorated the home using a neutral color scheme of creams and greens.

Source: The Washington Post

People can donate to the Vice President's Residence Foundation, a non-profit organization created in 1991, to help pay for decorating expenses.

Source: The Center for Public Integrity

When Al Gore's family lived there, lacrosse sticks and drumsticks were reportedly always lying around.

Source: USA Today

The house features Queen Anne-style architecture, and an expansive porch that wraps around the front corner.

Source: Number One Observatory Circle

Dan Quayle added a swimming pool and exercise room during his tenure. In 2010, Joe Biden told reporters that Quayle was his "favorite vice president" because he helped build the pool.

Source: USA Today

Jill Biden, Joe's wife, was also grateful for past additions. "Each person has added something to make the home better for the next family," she told The Washington Post.

Source: The Washington Post

She was also especially fond of the "serenity" of the place. "When times get tough, and there were some pretty tough times for the Bidens, you could sit outside and reflect. It was very healing," she said.

Source: The Washington Post

Numerous leaders and dignitaries have been to the residence over the years. For eight years in a row, Biden hosted Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny on St. Patrick's Day.

Source: Medium

Before moving out, Jill Biden told the Washington Post that the Pences would likely be surprised to find that the Observatory is a respite from the "hectic" nature of Washington life.

Source: Washington Post

The Pences have lived in the Observatory since January 2017. After moving in, they posed for Inauguration Day photos on the front porch.

Just like their predecessors, the Pences have hosted a broad range of guests, including politicians and world leaders.

 

In June 2017, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue joined Karen Pence to unveil the addition of bee hives to the grounds.

Source: US Department of Agriculture

Karen Pence, who declared art therapy as her official cause as second lady, has hosted events for US soldiers suffering from PTSD.

 

Sources: The New York Times, Washington Life Magazine

The Pences also host an annual pool party for veterans.

 

 

 

But the public rarely gets the chance to see the property for themselves. There are no public tours and the house is hidden from the street. "If you don't know about it, it's not there," historian Denyer said.

Source: USA Today

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