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Where does the vice president live? Inside the history of the Naval Observatory

Despite being at the front in the presidential line of succession, the vice president does not reside with their family in the White House. The only federal office holder to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been every President of the United States since John Adams in 1800. 

Where does the vice president live? 

Every vice president since Walter Mondale has lived at the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) in Washington D.C. While operating as a residence for the vice president and their family members, it is also fully functioning workplace for scientists to observe and track the movement of planets, the moon, and the sun for astronomic data needed for navigation. Several vice presidents, including former Vice President Al Gore, have used the Naval Observatory to welcome foreign dignitaries and ambassadors.

The first vice president to live at the Naval Observatory was Walter Mondale, who moved into the residence in 1977. Mondale’s daughter, Eleanor, has said the vice president’s house is haunted and claimed she had to call the Secret Service into her room after she reportedly saw a ghost in her bedroom. 


“I was so scared, I fainted,” Eleanor Mondale wrote in a 1998 issue of Swing Magazine. “Upon coming to, I phoned the Secret Service Command Post. I whispered that there was a man in my room and hung up. Minutes later, two agents busted into the room, guns drawn. When I told them the ‘man’ was actually a ghost, they requested that I NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!”

In what city does the president live while in office?

Besides living in the Naval Observatory, the vice president also works alongside the president on the White House grounds. Moreover, the VP has a ceremonial office in the West Wing and an office for daily operations in the Eisenhower Building adjacent to the White House.


Walter Mondale was the first vice president to live in the Naval Observatory with his family. 

Originally, the vice president’s residence in Washington D.C. was the home of the USNO and later the chief of U.S. naval operations. The circular estate features a 9,150 square foot house which contains 33 rooms.

Where did the vice president live before 1974? 

Before Congress agreed to refurbish the Naval Observatory in 1974, vice presidents were historically responsible for the cost of their own housing. However, the vice president’s annual salary is $235,100 and the cost of a private residence in the D.C. area has risen over the last few decades. The vice presidential families that have lived in the Naval Observatory include Mondale, George H. W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Gore, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Mike Pence, and Kamala Harris. 

After Vice President Harris was inaugurated, she and second gentleman Doug Emhoff temporarily stayed in the Blair House, the presidential guest residence, while the Naval Observatory underwent repairs. They officially moved into the observatory in April of last year. 

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