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Reagan Family to Spend Christmas in Bel-Air Home

December 24, 1988|JAMES GERSTENZANG | Times Staff Writer

Goodby, Pennsylvania Avenue. Hello, St. Cloud Road.

Twenty-eight days before they will make it their permanent address, President and Mrs. Reagan moved into their $2.5-million Bel-Air home Friday.

They are spending their first Christmas out of the White House since they moved into it on Jan. 20, 1981.

"I'm awed and I love it," Reagan said as he drove up to his sprawling new home.

The Reagans arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly after noon, beginning a nearly two-week visit to Southern California, including their traditional New Year's holiday visit to the Rancho Mirage estate of millionaire publisher and former ambassador Walter H. Annenberg.

Rather than making the trip to the Westside by Marine Corps helicopter, the President blew a kiss to waiting cameras and boarded a limousine for a motorcade to his new home.

By the end of this vacation trip, which will take the President back to Washington with only two weeks remaining in his term, Reagan will have spent more than 450 days of his presidency in California.

Home Bought by Friends

The 6,500-square-foot Bel-Air house was purchased for the Reagans by a group of their friends and political supporters, who formed Wall Management Services Inc. to buy the home in April, 1986, with the idea of eventually selling it to the President and his wife. For the time being, the Reagans are leasing it for a sum that is undisclosed but reported to be about $15,000 a month.

The Reagans already have moved some of their personal furniture from the White House to equip their new residence, and Mrs. Reagan reportedly has inquired about the possibility of purchasing some of the furniture that they had in the Pacific Palisades home they sold when they moved to Washington.

And, friends have given Mrs. Reagan a "kitchen shower," to equip the house with pots and pans. It is a poorly kept secret that she has no love for cooking.

Mrs. Reagan has supervised the decorating, but she did get the President to sneak over to the residence some time ago, she disclosed recently in an interview. She told United Press International that she had spirited Reagan over there by keeping him hidden on the floor of a Secret Service limousine to escape notice.

The rambling house, set in a neighborhood of even more imposing homes, has five bedrooms, according to Elaine Crispen, Mrs. Reagan's spokesman; and, by some accounts, it has six bathrooms. It has a heated swimming pool and a three-car garage.

Reagan Breaks Tradition

For Reagan, a man of often strict adherence to personal tradition, the trip is a sharp departure from his practice of spending Christmas Day at the White House and then flying to California for a holiday vacation a day or two later.

This year, the Reagans celebrated with a holiday dinner--roast turkey, kale shaped into a Christmas tree, white turnips carved into bells and pumpkin bread shaped like gingerbread figures--at the White House Thursday night. They were joined by Mrs. Reagan's brother, Dr. Richard Davis, several other family members, Nancy Reynolds, who is a longtime friend, and her son, Michael Reynolds.

On Christmas Day, they will celebrate in their new home, spending a rare holiday with three of their four children--Maureen, Michael and Ron, and their families. Their other daughter, Patti Davis, from whom they have been estranged for more than a year, was not expected to attend.

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