The official residence of the Vice President of the United States is at Number One Observatory Circle, within the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory. Unlike the White House, it is not open to the public, although it is occasionally used for entertaining guests of the United States. Photographs of the interior of Number One Observatory Circle sometimes also appear in photographs of casual gatherings hosted by the Vice President.
This home was built in 1893, and it was originally intended to house the Superintendent of the Naval Observatory. It is constructed in the Queen Anne style, featuring a distinctive turret, gabled roofing, large wraparound porches, and a spacious entry hall. Originally, the residence was faced in terra-cotta colored brick, but it has since been painted white with green trim, giving it a more Colonial look.
In 1923, the Chief of Naval Operations took over the home. 51 years later, the United States Congress agreed to officially designate the home as the residence of the Vice President, providing funds to renovate and update it, although unfortunately historic preservation was not a concern at the time. This decision was made to address concerns about the expense of finding appropriate housing in Washington, DC, where the housing market is often tight; recognizing the valuable service of the Vice President, Congress felt that it would be reasonable to provide a residence for the holder of this office. The first Vice President to live at the official residence of the Vice President was Walter Mondale.
As with the private rooms in the White House, this residence is typically redecorated between administrations. Each Vice President has brought personal furniture and belongings, and often temporary loans with museums are arranged so that pieces of original art and antiques can be displayed. While some voters may resent this, the argument is that since the residence of the Vice President is used for entertaining guests of the United States, it is entirely appropriate to ensure that it is furnished and decorated with high-quality items.
Occasionally, the use of taxpayer funds to perform maintenance on the residence of the Vice President such as replacement of the air conditioning system, repainting, or rewiring is authorized by Congress. Allegedly, the home has also been outfitted with a secure bunker for the use of the Vice President and family in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack, although the White House has not confirmed this.