Washington Week

Friday Nights on PBS

You get a White House! How the presidential loser can still live like a winner.

By Jenna Goff and Joan Greve
Washington Week Fellows

On Tuesday, the U.S. will have a new president and the 2016 election will be over. But the loser doesn’t have to give up their shot at the White House: in Northern Virginia alone, just miles from the real White House, two White House replicas are on the market. And given that the one on Pennsylvania Ave. is valued at as much as $394 million, the duplicates are bargains for either candidate.

For $2.69 million, the Towlston Road White House in McLean, Virginia is almost a carbon copy of the actual White House - at least on the exterior. The house was built by Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant who hired an architectural historian to copy the president’s house as a “thank you” to his adopted country. The house is a bit smaller than the real thing at almost 14,000 square feet (the actual White House boasts 55,000) but includes a Truman Balcony, six bedrooms and an elevator.

Less than three miles down the road is another White House replica on Georgetown Pike. This one is complete with a curved portico and neoclassical columns identical to the White House across the Potomac. At $3.9 million, the house includes a lawn large enough to land a helicopter, a pool, a movie theater and six bedrooms.

Northern Virginia isn’t the only location with White House replicas, though. The losing candidate could cross the country - even the world - and still have a shot at scoring a White House.

The Lone Star State boasts at least two White House replicas, one in Morgan’s Point and another in Dallas. The Morgan’s Point facade greatly resembles the South Portico of the Obama family’s current residence, with a manufactured, private beach thrown in for good measure. But Trump may feel more at home in the Dallas “mock-chateau,” which lies along a street known as “Billionaire's Row” in the Texan city. 

The losing candidate could conduct business in an Oval Office complete with a replica of the famous Resolute desk at a White House in Atlanta. Built by Iranian-American real estate developer Fred Milani, the house combines Middle Eastern decor (rugs on the walls, hookahs) with American political iconography (the Emancipation Proclamation painted on a bedroom wall, a poster of all 43 presidents in the kitchen.)

And if the South isn’t their place, an upside down White House dubbed “Top Secret” in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin could be a good fit for either candidate, especially given the topsy-turvy nature of the election. Unfortunately, it’s not on the market, but tourists can take guided tours of rooms such as the Oval Office and the Press Room turned on their heads.

Even China and Iraq have their own White House replicas. Real estate tycoon Huang Qiaoling built his own White House in Hangzhou, China that includes an Oval Office and a portrait gallery of all 43 American presidents. The estate has become such a tourist destination that even George W. Bush stopped by in 2002. And just about 50 miles from Mosul, Iraq - where a raging battle against ISIS is taking place - is another White House complete with marble columns and a white portico that rivals the original. The house is so big that owner Shihab Shihab forgot how many bedrooms there are. 

And if any of these homes’ owners have difficulty finding a buyer, they may consider contacting the Secret Service. Last March, the agency requested $8 million of funding for a White House replica to use in agent training, which currently takes place “on a parking lot, basically,” Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told Congress. Any of these mansions would certainly be an upgrade from that.   

 


Photos:
Flickr / Diego Camblaso
Zillow / 1111 Towlston Rd, McLean, VA 22102
Zillow / 8907 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22102
Zillow / 10777 Strait Ln, Dallas, TX 75229
Wikimedia / Atlanta White House
Flickr / cursedthing
Wikimapia / Hangzhou White House