News & Politics

Delaware Man Relocating to Historic Ward 2 Home

Longtime federal employee to be newest resident of storied property at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Ward Two's Newest Resident, federal employee Joe Biden

A Delaware man relocating for a senior federal job will be the new occupant of one of Ward 2’s most sought-after homes, according to multiple reports.

The tenant, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will not be a complete newcomer to the city when his moves in this winter. He previously lived in Ward 3 between 2009 and 2017. And his professional connections in the District date back to 1973, when he began a 35-year career on Capitol Hill. But during those decades, he continued to commute home to Wilmington, never relocating his family to the nation’s capital.

The new home that Biden plans to share with his wife, Jill, a community-college professor, is a historic structure at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, with 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms. Located in easy walking distance of several Metro stations as well as many downtown offices, it marks a major upgrade from their prior District residence on upper Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Still, despite its historic reputation, the Bidens’ eye-catching new address near Lafayette Square has not always been appreciated by previous occupants.

Over the years, several tenants have described the place as isolating, analogizing it to living in a bubble. Unusually for bustling Ward 2—which includes Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and a number of other dense, centrally located neighborhoods—the house is freestanding and not known for the walkable, pedestrian lifestyle that is often a major selling point of the buzziest neighborhoods in 21st-century DC.

More recently, some Ward 2 residents have also complained that the mansion, long considered one of the District’s safest properties, had become dangerous—a fact that may explain how a career federal employee was able to secure a four-year lease in the first place. Earlier this fall, the home was the epicenter of a covid outbreak, likely the result of a large party the current tenants threw in violation of DC quarantine rules.

Controversially, those tenants, a married couple with a teenage child, were served with an eviction notice scarcely a month after they themselves were stricken with the virus. Though the District has a moratorium on evictions, the home’s location on federal property means its landlords are not required to extend the tenants’ lease past its expiration at noon January 20. (The tenants have threatened to fight the eviction all the way to the Supreme Court, something experts say has little chance.)

For their part, the Bidens appear unconcerned about the legal action, or whether their new neighbors might resent out-of-towners who abruptly eject a recently unemployed DC family: They plan to move the very afternoon that the outgoing tenants’ lease expires.

It’s not clear whether the Bidens are planning any major changes to the mansion, where new fencing has in recent years enraged area residents. It’s also unclear just how much time they will spend there. According to public records, the Bidens also own a large house in Rehoboth Beach, meaning the may become one of those Washingtonian couples who spend summer weekends at the shore.

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Editor

Michael Schaffer has been editor of Washingtonian since 2014. A former editor of Washington City Paper and editorial director of The New Republic, Michael is also the author of One Nation Under Dog, a 2009 book about America’s obsession with pets. A DC native, he currently lives in Chevy Chase DC with his wife and their two daughters.