Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton defends April Ryan, Rep. Maxine Waters in speech Lobbying world Trump puts foreign investors first by supporting the Republican tax plan MORE’s nascent campaign doesn’t have a headquarters, but it does have an epicenter.
It’s called “Whitehaven,” and it’s a 5,500-square-foot brick colonial in the posh Observatory Circle neighborhood of Northwest Washington.
It is here on Whitehaven Street, a dead-end road bordering Rock Creek Park, that the would-be presidential candidate has held court in her post-State Department days.
When Clinton met secretly in December with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), it was at Whitehaven.
When former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe counseled Clinton last fall on a potential campaign, he came to the residence.
The Clintons also own a home in Chappaqua, N.Y., which they purchased for $1.7 million in 1999.
But while the suburban New York house is a residence the Clintons share, Whitehaven has always been seen as Hillary’s.
“It is totally, entirely hers,” said one Clinton ally who has been to the home for meetings and other occasions. “All of the art, all of the colors, all of the design is all of her doing. She is entirely herself there.”
The ally added, “She uses it as a staging ground but she doesn’t do it willy-nilly. It’s considered a privilege to go there."
Just weeks after leaving her Foggy Bottom work-digs at the start of 2013, Clinton met with Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Democrats, at Whitehaven for one-on-one catch-up sessions over breakfast.
She also used Whitehaven — the house’s nickname to associates and friends — to meet with her post-State Department staff around her dining room table to chart the path for the philanthropic projects she would take on at the Clinton Foundation. The room served as a conference room of sorts, with the French doors closed.
It has also been an entertainment hub, where Clinton held a high-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the fall.
Associates point out that the home is not a show-and-tell, museum-like house. There aren’t any grip-and-grin photos with heads of state or a wall of fame with A-listers.
Instead, there are personal touches, family photos, a Nelson Mandela coffee table book. The house's butter-yellow color walls have been a personal favorite for Clinton, who has used the same hue in previous homes.
“It’s definitely the place where she feels most comfortable and the place where she tries to get people to feel most comfortable,” said one longtime Clinton ally who has visited the home a number of times over the years. “She uses it as a home, as an office, as a staging ground for important meetings, it’s all of those things.
“And she’s there more often than not,” the ally added.
Much of Clinton’s professional life is shifting back to New York, where the family’s foundation is based and where staffers are slowly relocating. Clinton’s campaign has looked at Brooklyn and Queens as possible HQ locations. It recently ruled out an office in White Plains, near the Clinton Chappaqua home, because of its logistical inconvenience.
Whitehaven, however, was Clinton’s fortress of solitude when she toiled on her book Hard Choices, according to those familiar with the writing.
The home also served as the backdrop for an interview last year with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. It’s where a photographer captured a photo of the former Secretary of State standing poolside for People magazine before the rollout of her latest book.
A longtime Clinton aide who has been to the home multiple times said Clinton tends to hold meetings in Whitehaven for several reasons: It’s very easy to get to for those in the Washington area and it’s a warmer, more comfortable environment than a Beltway office space. The dining room is well-suited for conversation, planning, and lunch, snacks or coffee, the source said.
The home also provides Clinton easy access to the park’s trails, where she sometimes walks.
Whitehaven’s seclusion and the lack of foot traffic was one of its selling points for the Clintons, according to members of their inner circle. While their Chappaqua home on Old House Lane is “as inviting” as Whitehaven, Clinton associates say it’s not as convenient, tucked away in the suburbs north of New York City.
“I think [Whitehaven] provides the best of both worlds,” said Andrew Riguzzi, a top broker for the real estate firm DCRE Residential. “People want to live in the city for the convenience, but having access to open spaces in the city provides you with the privacy of the country.”
Riguzzi added that the Observatory Circle neighborhood home is a popular choice for a “true D.C. person” because they know the value of it. It doesn’t have the fame and prominence of a neighborhood like Georgetown. But it is exclusive because of its price and relative seclusion. “Anyone who is not from D.C. wouldn’t know about it,” he said. “She’s been here long enough to know better.”
After Clinton announces her expected run for the White House, those around her say that she’ll have additional options to meet with associates and aides in New York City. And they predict that the Chappaqua home could serve increasingly as a daylong “off-site” meeting place because of its serene location.
Still, making New York City the center of her future campaign is a double-edged sword for Clinton. While there are many more places to hold meetings and hide from the press, it’s also swarming with reporters looking for a scoop.
“They don’t call it the media capital for nothing,” one former campaign aide said.