Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

A Post-White House Presidential Residence

Unlike when most presidents’ terms in office conclude, when President Obama left The White House in January of 2017 he and his family chose to stay here in D.C.  In fact, the only other former President to live in D.C. after leaving the presidency was Woodrow Wilson, who also has the distinction of being the only former president interred in D.C.

The Obamas’ reason for staying in the national capital city was so that Sasha (the youngest daughter), could stay and graduate from high school.  At the time she was a sophomore at a private high school named Sidwell Friends, where her older sister Malia graduated in 2016.  As President Obama explained, “We’re going to have to stay a couple of years in D.C. probably so Sasha can finish.  Transferring someone in the middle of high school?  Tough.”

So after living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for eight years, what kind of home did the Obama family move into?  On today’s lunchtime bike ride I stopped by to see their current home, located at 2446 Belmont Road (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood, to find out.

While not as impressive as the White House, the Obama family’s current home is newer than it.  The White House has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1800.  The Obamas’ Belmont Road house was built 128 years later, in 1928.  The White House has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and 6 levels in the residence, while the Obamas’ current house has 13 rooms, eight and a half bathrooms, and three levels.  The Obama family’s previous residence has 35 fireplaces, while their current home has only one.  The White House has formal gardens, vegetable gardens and a rose garden.  Their new home has only a formal garden.  Lastly, the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet and sits on 784,080 square feet of fenced in land, while the Belmont Road house is 6,441 square feet and sits on fenced in lot that measures 11,915 square feet.

The White House also has a bowling alley, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a movie theater, three elevators, butlers and personal assistants, groundskeepers, and five full-time chefs.  The Obamas do not yet have a pool but recently were approved for a permit to build one.  And the Belmont Road house has a lower level au-pair suite for Barack’s mother-in-law.

Although not for sale, the White House is worth $397.9 million.  The Belmont Road house was listed for $5,750,000 in 2008, and then listed and relisted twice in 2012 for $7,995,000.  Having not found a buyer, it was subsequently listed again in 2014 for $5,750,000.  It sold in may of that year for $5,295,000 to former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and his wife, Giovanna Gray Lockhart.  An Obama family corporation, Homefront Holdings, LLC., then purchased the home from them in 2017 for $8.1 million, which is more than quadruple the price of comparable real estate listings in the area, where the median price is $1,995,000.

Despite the fact that last year’s move from their home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was a substantial step down for Barack, Michelle, and Sasha, their current home is much larger and more valuable than the home they still own at 5046 South Greenwood Avenue in south side Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood, where they lived prior to the White House, and still stay on some visits back home to Chicago.

The Obamas will most likely remain in their current home in the nation’s capital until at least the summer of 2019, after Sasha graduates.  After that, they may continue to reside here, they may return to Chicago, or they may end up somewhere else.

 

NOTE:  Unlike all of the other photos on this blog, I did not take the above photos of the Obama family’s current home.  Those photos were taken from the real estate listing at the time they bought the home.   Because the Secret Service, which guards the former president’s homes here in D.C. and in Chicago have restricted access to the roads on which they are located, the following photos were the only ones I was able to take of what I could see on my bike ride.  They show uniformed Secret Service officers at blockades at either end of the road, and one of the black SUVs I saw while I was riding around the neighborhood in which sat plain clothes Secret Service agents.

 

 [Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

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The Naval Observatory Clock

In their debut album in 1969, the rock band “The Chicago Transit Authority” (later shortened to “Chicago”) asked the musical question, “Does anybody really know what time it is?”  Well, if anybody can answer that question, it would be the people at the United States Naval Observatory (USNO), located in Northwest D.C. at 3450 Massachusetts Avenue (MAP), at the Northwestern end of Embassy Row.  And outside the gate to the USNO compound is a display for the Master Clock that serves as the official time in the United States.  So if you’re out for a bike ride in D.C. and you really need to know what time it is, I recommend riding by.

The USNO is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States.  Its headquarters was established in D.C. in 1894 as an astronomical observatory.  It was originally located in a more urban area of the city before the light pollution thrown off by the growth in the city’s center diminished its effectiveness.  It was subsequently moved to its current location on a 2000-foot circle of land atop Observatory Hill overlooking the city.  Today, the observatory’s primary observational and positioning work is done away from any urban areas at a higher elevation station near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Today, the USNO’s primary mission is to produce positioning, navigation and timing for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense and its contractors.  As part of that mission, the Naval Observatory is specifically responsible for standard time, time interval, and radio-frequency standards, and operates the primary Master Clock facility at its site in D.C.  However, if it’s not possible for you to stop by the facility in Northwest D.C., the USNO also provides public time service via servers on the Internet, such as http://www.strage.com/vault/time.htm, and via telephone voice announcements by calling 202-762-1401.

Aside from its scientific mission, since 1974, the official residence of the Vice President of the United States is Number One Observatory Circle, a house on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.  It has also been speculated that the residence houses a bunker-like room that serves as the “secure, undisclosed location” where Vice Presidents are taken and remain under protection during times of national emergency, such as after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  In a 2009 interview, Vice President Biden described the bunker.  However, a short time later the Vice President’s press office issued a statement denying the bunker report, suggesting that Biden had instead been describing “an upstairs workspace”.