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Pence moves out and Harris moves in: This is the official home of the Vice President

Gustaf Kilander
·3-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

Mike Pence and his family have left the Vice President's residence at the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, DC and Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff are moving in – although not necessarily quite yet.

Mr Pence's daughter Charlotte Pence Bond posted an image on Instagram of Mr Pence and wife Karen Pence leaving the residence.

She wrote: "America, thank you for this privilege. I love you. I believe in you. Congratulations to our President and Vice-President. May God grant you moments of peace, deep wisdom, and some fun during your service."

The house where Ms Harris and Mr Emhoff will live for at least the next four years is 128 years old and has been the designated home of the vice president since 1974 when Nelson Rockefeller was Gerald Ford's Vice President. Mr Rockefeller entertained guests at Number One Observatory Circle, but chose not to live there, The New York Times reported.

However, CBS reported that the new vice president and her family will not be moving in immediately.

An aide to Ms Harris told the broadcaster that a delay in the move will “allow for repairs to the home that are more easily conducted with the home unoccupied”. The repairs are said to include new chimney liners.

The house sits on a plot of land measuring 72 acres, which is known as the Naval Observatory. The house’s 9,000 square feet holds a library, basement kitchen and several bedrooms. Built in 1893, the house was first the home of the superintendent of the United States Naval Observatory, but from the 1920s until it became the home of the vice president, it housed the chiefs of naval operations.

Before there was an official Washington home for vice presidents, they lived in their own homes or hotels while serving. The idea to find an official home for the vice president has been considered since at least 1923, when the wife of Missouri Senator John Henderson offered a new house as a possible option.

Read more: Follow live updates and news on Inauguration Day 2021

The house is still designated as the “temporary” home of the vice president, a designation it received in 1974 after the Secret Service spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on security surrounding private DC homes of vice presidents. For instance, $245,000 was spent on the Maryland home of Richard Nixon's vice president Spiro Agnew, and $81,000 on Gerald Ford's Virginia home. Mr Ford followed Mr Agnew as Mr Nixon's Vice President and later replaced Mr Nixon in the White House.

At the time, $315,000 was appropriated by lawmakers for repairs and renovations.

The first vice president to actually live at the Naval Observatory was Walter Mondale after Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in the 1976 election. National Security expert Charles Denyer told The New York Times that "as the office of the vice presidency has grown in importance over the years, particularly with the election of Vice President Walter Mondale in 1976, the home has grown considerably also in terms of amenities and security upgrades ... Vice President Mondale became probably the most consequential vice president ever to that date. Carter involved him in almost everything.”

Private funds are raised for renovations to the home by the Vice President’s Residence Foundation, while the Navy is in charge of taking care of it.

George HW Bush, who served as Vice President to Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989 before shouldering the presidency himself, reportedly added a horseshoe pit and a quarter-mile track to the Naval Observatory. A swimming pool was added by Mr Bush's own second in command Dan Quayle. The pool was lauded by none other than President Joe Biden, The Hill writes, when he served as Vice President to President Barack Obama.

Vice President Kamala Harris will make history when she moves into the house as the first woman, first Black woman, and first woman of South Asian descent to take on the role.

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