News & Politics

The Secret Service Wants to Build a Fake White House. It Could Just Buy This One in McLean.

The agency is asking for $8 million to build a training site. It could buy a crash pad for half that.

Why build a fake White House when you can just buy this one? Photographs via Zillow.

The US Secret Service, embarrassed by repeated instances of people jumping the White House fence and trying to break in, plans to ask Congress for an additional $8 million in the next fiscal year to build a replica for training purposes. The New York Times reports that the agency, which is on its third director in as many year, wants an upgrade from its “rudimentary, not-to-scale simulation” of the White House’s north grounds to a full-scale model capable that offers a realistic environment during training drills.

Giving security personnel a training ground that accurately simulates their work environment sounds good, but the government remains firmly entrenched in austerity mode. Fortunately for the Secret Service, the agency does not have to travel too far to find a much cheaper alternative than the $8 million mock-up. For less than $4 million, it could buy this fake White House in McLean. Built in 1995, the knockoff mansion features its own fake North Portico in front and Truman Balcony out back. Moreover, its interior furnishings are perfect for the Secret Service, including a sauna, wet bar, home theater, and party room that can hold 100 people. It also features six bedrooms, in case anyone needs to sleep over instead of attempt to drive home after a long night of partying. (It’s perfect for the next time the Secret Service throws a going-away party for one of its employees, which could come any day.)

1111 Towlston Road is currently not for sale, but it has been listed several times in the past few years. Its owners tried to sell it for $4.65 million in April 2011; by November 2012, the last time it was on the open market, the asking price was down to $3,999,950. The Secret Service needs a shot of good publicity, and saving the taxpayers $4 million could go a long way.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.