The Presidency: Making the House a Home

Comparing color schemes, peering into closets, peeking at the view from every room, the Richard Nixons looked like any other householders casing the premises. With a difference. The Nixons' dreamhouse really is one. It comprises 132 rooms—"big enough for two emperors, one pope and the grand lama," as Thomas Jefferson observed—offers every convenience from a heated swimming pool to greenhouses and painless gardens, on 18 pristine acres of priceless downtown D.C. real estate. And it evokes some of the richest moments of American history. It may take some getting used to.

No time was wasted settling in, however, and the...

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