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Chris Christie among few with state-owned vacation homes

Christie on the beach
Christie on the beach 02:23

In a series of photos that have elicited outrage and mockery, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his family and friends can be seen lounging outside one of the governor's houses at Island Beach State Park -- a park closed to everyone else because of a three-day-old budget showdown. 

Christie defended himself on Monday, telling WNYW-TV that he had every right to be there.

"The governor has two residences in New Jersey," Christie said. "One down at the beach, at Island Beach State Park, and one at Drumthwacket, which also is in Princeton. The governor is allowed to go to his residences and I'm at my residences."

Most governors couldn't get caught in a brouhaha like the one surrounding Christie -- because New Jersey is one of only a handful of states with a state-owned vacation home for its chief executive.  

In this July 2, 2017, photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, uses the beach with his family and friends at the governor's summer house at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.
In this July 2, 2017, photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, uses the beach with his family and friends at the governor's summer house at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP

Here is a look at the home and others like it around the U.S.:

New Jersey

On a holiday weekend when New Jersey residents and tourists would be soaking up the sun on state beaches and parks, they are being turned away. Jennifer Bate told CBS News correspondent Don Dahler that she was declined a bike ride at Liberty State Park.

"It's a holiday weekend," she said. "What about all the kids that have birthday parties and paid to rent to have a barbecue here? It's not fair."

Christie got blistered online after photos taken by The Star-Ledger showed him and his family on the beach at the governor's summer house.

"That's the way it goes," Christie said Saturday about his family's use of the beach home. "Run for governor, and you can have the residence."

He said he wasn't using any additional state services this weekend beyond the governor's Ocean House -- a five-bedroom, three-bathroom home hidden behind greenery along the park's main road. The cedar-shingled Cape Cod-style home was constructed by steel magnate Henry Phipps, a partner of Andrew Carnegie. Phipps had bought the park property in 1926 to turn it into an exclusive seashore resort. Only three large homes were built before the 1929 stock market crash halted construction. Phipps died the next year.

In this Sunday, July 2, 2017, photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie uses the beach with his family and friends at the governor's summer house at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.  Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP

In 1953, the state purchased the Phipps estate and additional land to preserve the island's natural beauty and create a recreation area. Island Beach opened as a state park in 1959.

For most of the year, Christie and his family live in their own home and have chosen not to live in the governor's mansion in Princeton.


The state is currently finishing renovations to its beachfront governor's mansion, built on property that was donated to the state in 1962 for use as an executive mansion. Governors beginning with George C. Wallace used the six-bedroom, four-bath house on and off until it was badly damaged by Hurricane Danny in 1997. The house is being renovated with BP grant money left over from the 2010 Gulf oil spill, and the state has said it plans to use the mansion for economic development events once the work is done. It's on the Fort Morgan peninsula near Gulf Shores.


The Michigan governor's summer residence on Mackinac Island is a three-story home on a bluff overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. It was originally built as a summer cottage for a Chicago attorney and purchased by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission in 1944, according to the state. The 7,100-square-foot residence has 11 bedrooms. Thousands of people tour the first floor each summer and the governor hosts events there with national and state leaders. Gov. Rick Snyder's press office didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.

North Carolina

North Carolina's governors wanting a getaway have one waiting about 250 miles west of the state capital in Raleigh -- a 6,000-square-foot, contemporary split-level home on a mountain overlooking Asheville and other Appalachian peaks. The home and the 18-acre grounds complete with roaming bears and outdoor terraces were donated to the state in 1964 by Asheville's chamber of commerce.

A nonprofit group rents out the house and grounds to dozens of civic organizations through the year, generating income that leaves taxpayers responsible for about half the $15,500 annual maintenance costs. Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot and seriously wounded in Arizona in 2011, recuperated there while she was seeing an Asheville-area physician.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and his family are currently staying at the western mansion, through the Fourth of July, a spokesman said Monday. His wife visited with staff in March and June while attending official events.

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