The official residence of the Vice President of the United States of America is the Number One Observatory Circle. This residence is located on the land belonging to the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. This property is considered by many as the most prestigious yet little known address on the US Naval Observatory’s property.
The design of the house was done by an architect by the name Leon E. Dessez in the year 1893 for a total budget of $20,000. The house was intended for occupation by the Superintendent of the Nasal Observatory. The residence was built on a 73-acre piece of land which was bought by the Navy in 1880.
Through Public Law 630, Congress decided that the house would be home to the Chief of Naval Operations. Charles Fredrick was the first resident of the Admiral’s House. This house then became home to admirals for the next 45 years.
The building has gone through several colour changes. It was originally brick red it got a feather grey coat in 1960, and later in 1963, it was painted white with black shutters. The house now wears a coat of crème paint.
The Assassination of John F. Kennedy spurred Congress into passing a law that provided for the housing of the Vice president at the United States Naval Observatory. 10 acres of land were put aside for this use. Funding and the exact location were to be settled on after the Vietnam War. Within this period of indecision, Secret Service paid expensively for upgrading private housing of vice presidents. Once they left office, they still owned the houses. To mitigate these expense, Congress passes a law in 1974 making the Admiral’s House a temporary residence to the Vice President.
The house was officially opened in September 1975 but was first occupied by then-Vice President Walter Mondale in January of 1977.
Numerous renovations have been made on the house starting with the first renovation after formalization in 1976 which cost $ 276,000 for the replacement of window units. The roof was replaced with slate in 1980 to prevent leaking. When the Bush family moved in, in 1981, they spent $187,000 on carpeting, upholstery and furniture. Another $34,000 was spent the next year by the Navy fixing the porch roof. Walls destroyed by water seepage were fixed using $225,000 while a master bedroom was built with $8,000. A huge remodel was done in 1989 that cost $300,000. Children’s bedrooms were added on the third floor, a wheel chair accessible entrance was made, and the master bathroom was upgraded.
Public donations later paid for putting a green, swimming pool, hot tub and a pool house from 1989 to 1991. Several security enhancements were also done during this period.
The major enhancement was done in 1991 by the Navy. This was done to replace or renovate the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation and electric systems. The porch and the family rooms were also upgraded on the second floor. The whole operation cost a whopping $1.6 million.
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