Located on the northeast grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., the house was built in 1893 for its superintendent. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) liked the house so much that in 1923 he took over the house for himself. It remained the residence of the CNO until 1974, when United States Congress authorized its transformation to an official residence for the Vice President. The congressional authorization covered the cost of refurbishment and furnishing the house.
Before that time, the Vice President lived in his own home, but the cost of providing security for these private residences had become prohibitive.
Although Number One Observatory Circle was made available to the Vice President in 1974, three years passed before a Vice President lived full-time in the house. Then-Vice President Gerald Ford became President before he could use the house. His Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, primarily used the home for entertaining as he already had a well-secured residence in Washington, D.C., though the Rockefellers donated millions of dollars of furnishing to the house. Then-Vice President Walter Mondale was the first Vice President to move into the house. Every Vice President since has lived there.
The Vice Presidential mansion was refurbished by the United States Navy in early 2001, only slightly delaying the move of then-Vice President Dick Cheney and his family. When Frank Underwood became Vice President, he and his wife, Claire, didn't live in the mansion, preferring to live in their own secured residence in Washington, D.C.
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