- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

He doesn't spend much time there, but Richard B. Cheney has one of the finest homes in Washington a newly renovated 33-room mansion with an indoor gym, seven fireplaces and art borrowed from some of the nation's most prestigious collections.
The government-owned residence "doesn't have an institutional feel about it," said Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife. "It's still very warm. At the same time, I think it has a lot of dignity."
Mrs. Cheney led a pair of Associated Press reporters on a recent tour.
Sitting on a grassy hillside inside a 12-acre compound, the vice president's mansion is a good fit for the Cheneys' Western lifestyle. "When you grow up in the wide-open spaces, you just don't like to feel crowded," said Mrs. Cheney, like her husband a Wyoming native. "You just kind of like the feel of your space."
The white brick Victorian, on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, was updated with a $363,000 renovation this year. The work included all new hardwood floors in most of the house, remodeling the seven fireplaces, new paint or wallpaper in every room, electrical updating and new carpeting.
The vice president spends many nights away from home. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, he has been staying in an undisclosed location to ensure continuity of government in case of more assaults.
Back in the mansion intended for him, Mr. Cheney has many reminders of Wyoming.
There is the bronze sculpture by Gerald Balciar of running buffalo, "Prairie Thunder," in a hallway, and a framed Wyoming map in the sun room. In the gym upstairs, there are large photos of the vice president fly-fishing and riding a horse in the Teton Range. And there is the black lab puppy Jackson, named for the Cheneys' Jackson Hole, Wyo., home.
With some of the nation's best public and private collections at their disposal, the Cheneys borrowed an esoteric mix of portraits, modernist paintings and Western sculpture.
The most striking piece is Helen Frankenthaler's "Lush Spring," a large, abstract acrylic on canvas, as wide as the couch it sits over and nearly reaching the high ceiling. The painting, on loan from the Phoenix Art Museum, graces a drawing room with rounded windows built into a cone-shaped turret.
It's the most formal room in the home, and the one where the vice president recently posed with hundreds of guests during receiving lines at holiday parties. One curious touch: a tray of grass above the fireplace. "It's so fresh," Mrs. Cheney said.
There is a piano in the foyer, though it gets little use, Mrs. Cheney said. In the dining room, there is an antique English table on loan from the State Department.
The Cheneys generally spend their time elsewhere in the home and seem to prefer a more casual style.
The vice president holds occasional meetings in the sunroom, where light pours through enormous windows and visitors look out into the leafy yard. New sand-colored hardwood floors have replaced the sunken old ones.
The workout room features rows of stationary exercise machines. Mr. Cheney, who has a history of heart problems, prefers the Schwinn Airdyne bicycle and it is a pleasant space, full of light from windows and skylights. There is also a basket full of children's toys, including a stuffed Barney doll, for when the grandchildren are around, and an entertainment system with stereo and television.
"This is a great room to motivate you to exercise," Mrs. Cheney said. "You can watch TV when you do it, and we've got a bunch of old movies you can watch."
The house was built in 1893 for the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of the oldest scientific agencies in the country. In 1974, Congress made it the official residence of the vice president.

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