The Residence

Quietly situated on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) in our nation’s capital lies Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the vice president of the United States. Built in 1893, the handsome and stately Queen Anne-style home is surrounded by a forest-like setting, complete with lush greenery, wildlife, and the serene sounds of nature, yet sits just footsteps away from the bustling traffic on Massachusetts Avenue.

From never-before-seen photos to candid conversations with former vice presidents, family members, political power players of their time, and others — Charles Denyer brings to life untold stories and memorable moments of the three-story, green-shuttered mansion covered in layers of off-white paint, and the people who were privileged to call it home.

  • 1893: Construction is completed on the Queen Anne style home at a cost of $20,000 that was designed by architect Leon E. Dessez.
  • 1893 – 1927: Home is known as the “Superintendent’s House”, with twelve US Naval Observatory superintendents residing at the residence during the period.
  • 1928: Public Law 630 of the 70th United States Congress turns over the former “Superintendent’s House” home to the chief of Naval Operations (CNO), thereby anointing it the “Admiral’s House.”
  • 1929 to 1974: The home served as the main residence for the chief of Naval Operations — the most senior naval officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy — and his family.
  • 1966: Approval of Public Law 89-386, detailing the planning, design, and construction of a residence on ten acres of land on the US Naval Observatory
  • 1974: Public Law 93-346 declares Number One Observatory Circle as the “temporary permanent residence” for the nation’s vice president.
  • 1974: Admiral Elmo Russell “Bud” Zumwalt Jr. becomes the last CNO to occupy the residence.
  • 1975: Number One Observatory Circle’s door open as the official residence of the Vice President of the United States, though sitting Vice President Nelson Rockefeller decides not to live in the home.
  • 1977: Walter F. Mondale and his family become the first official full-time residents of the home now designated as the official residence of the Vice President of the United States. Since Mondale’s occupancy, every vice president has taken up residence at Number One Observatory Circle.