VP Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff to move into Naval Observatory home next week

Every vice president since Walter Mondale has lived with his family on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory, shown in 2016. The first female vice president, Kamala Harris, will move there the second week of April 2021. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are slated to move into the vice president’s residence in the District of Columbia next week.

The couple have been living at Blair House, the president’s guesthouse, since Inauguration Day, while repairs were being made to the official residence after former vice president Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, moved out.

The move was announced Thursday in a tweet from Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for the vice president, after a moving truck appeared outside Blair House.

“The Vice President and Second Gentleman will move in to the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory residence next week,” Sanders tweeted. “The move was initially delayed to allow for repairs to the home that are more easily conducted with the home unoccupied.”

The repairs, Sanders tweeted, included “maintenance on the HVAC system, replacing the liners in the chimneys and refurbishing of some of the hardwood floors” in the 33-room house.

Many other repairs and improvements have been made in previous administrations, including a swimming pool added during the Quayle years, landscaping work during the Gore years and an upstairs kitchen renovation during the Cheney years. The Bidens created the Family Heritage Garden of the Vice President, with a fountain in the middle. The Pences had a basketball court installed, with a (removable) logo from the 1986 movie “Hoosiers.”

Although CNN reported a few days earlier that Harris was getting frustrated at living out of a suitcase, a White House aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Thursday April 1, 2021: “They have really enjoyed their stay at Blair House. The team made it feel like home, and they were extremely appreciative of all they did.”

As temporary residents of Blair House, Harris and Emhoff have had access to 120 historic antique-filled rooms and the amenities that the guesthouse extends to visiting heads of state. The vice president’s residence has a less formal, more airy feel inside, with a cozy library and a bright sunroom, plus a welcoming wrap-around porch that looks onto the woodsy property.

The move will lead to a longer commute. Instead of just crossing the street to her office, Harris will have about a two-mile drive from the Victorian mansion on the wooded grounds of the Naval Observatory. The house was built in 1893 to house superintendents of the Naval Observatory and in 1928 became the residence of the chief of naval operations. In 1974, it was designated by Congress as the official residence of the vice president.

Large banners with the messages “Welcome Vice President Harris” and “Welcome Home” have been hanging on near the residence for several months.

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