Commuting to the Oval Office

Boundary Stones takes a look at the first 10 days of Gerald Ford's presidency, when he commuted to work from his home in Alexandria.

Boundary Stones, a local history blog from WETA dedicated to sharing interesting stories and historical nuggets about Virginia, Maryland the District, recently looked into the first days of Gerald Ford’s presidency when he and his family remained at their residence on Crown View Drive in Alexandria.

For 10 days in August 1974, the new leader of the free world commuted to the Oval Office each morning from his home just off Janneys Lane.

According to the Boundary Stones post, titled "When the White House was in Alexandria":

You could say that things moved quickly for Gerald Ford in the ’70s. The longtime congressman from Michigan had been tapped at Vice President in December 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned. Then, less than a year later, Ford assumed the top job when President Nixon resigned amidst the fallout from the Watergate scandal. 

After Nixon’s resignation, it took a few days for the White House to be made ready for Ford and his family. So, the Fords just continued living in the Alexandria home that they had built at 514 Crown View Drive in 1955. As Betty Ford wrote in her memoir, in some ways those early days of the Presidency were remarkably routine. “At 7am, the President of the United States, in baby-blue short pajamas, appears on his doorstep looking for the morning paper, then goes inside to fix his orange juice and English muffin.”

Local police officers helped provide security outside the home, while the Secret Service constructed an office in the garage. 

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille attended T.C. Williams High School with the Fords’ sons.

“The parents were very engaged in their education and on the PTAs as well as attending sports events,” Euille recalled in a July 2011 Patch story published shortly after Betty Ford’s death. “They were a fun-loving and pleasant family, prior to and while living in the White House.”

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After Gerald Ford's death in 2006, Alexandria created the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Park, located on the southeast corner of Quaker Lane, across from the Immanuel-on-the-Hill where the Fords used to worship.

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Raine Koch May 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Such an amazing story. Thanks for this, Drew.


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