Written by Katie Rogers
Number One Observatory Circle is finally ready for its newest resident. After months spent living in temporary quarters at Blair House, Vice President Kamala Harris will move into her 33-room official residence on Tuesday evening after the completion of renovations, an administration official said.
“Tonight when she returns, she will take Marine Two to the vice president’s residence,” the official, who asked not to be identified because of security concerns, said about the move.
Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, spent last weekend in California. On Tuesday, Harris stopped in Chicago to tour a coronavirus vaccination site before flying on to Washington, D.C., while Emhoff visited Washington state.
Scheduled home improvements delayed Harris’ move to the Victorian residence, which has housed vice presidents and their families since the Mondales in the 1970s. Over the past two months, the home underwent extensive renovations, including the installation of a new heating and air system, refurbished wooden floors and updated chimney liners, the Harris’ office said.
The home, which features a large veranda, a pool and a sunroom, sits on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, in Northwest Washington.
The Navy provides funding for most structural refurbishments, such as heating and air conditioning or refurbishment of floors, according to Philip Dufour, who served as the home’s manager and social secretary to Vice President Al Gore.
Payment for preservation or aesthetic-related home improvements comes from the coffers of the Vice President’s Residence Foundation, which was started in 1991 after Vice President Dan Quayle began soliciting donations for various home improvements, including a $130,000 pool, a gym and a putting green. (“He’s my favorite vice president,” President Joe Biden, a former resident and fan of the pool, said of Quayle in 2010. “And my granddaughters love it.”)
The foundation also pays to hang artwork and install new drapes, and handles some larger projects. It “partnered with the Navy” for a major renovation during the Gore era that included the installation of a kitchenette on the second floor, so that the family would not have to go to the service kitchen in the basement, Dufour said.
The Queen Anne-style home provides privacy and a respite from the bustle of Washington that is not available at the White House, which is “lovely and beautiful, but you kind of live above the store,” Dufour said.