TIME: The Secret Society of Presidents


You would never take a second glance at 716 Jackson Place if you were strolling through the neighborhood around the White House and Lafayette Park in Washington. But the four-story white-painted townhouse with brown sandstone steps is easily the most exclusive clubhouse on the planet.

You have to call the White House for reservations — and at the moment, only four men are eligible to use it.

This is the home of the Presidents club, a building the government acquired in the late 1950s, which Richard Nixon reassigned in 1969 for the sole use of former Presidents when they came to town. At the time, Nixon was concerned mainly with keeping his restless predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, happy; Johnson left office knowing a great many secrets about Nixon, which Nixon naturally preferred to remain classified. But in the end, Johnson never had occasion to stay there. Gerald Ford first used the clubhouse, and since then it has served as a discreet Washington hideaway when former leaders of the free world come to town.

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