Brookline - Coolidge Corner: John F. Kennedy National Historic Site by Wally Gobetz Via Flickr: The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, located at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, preserves the birthplace and early childhood home of the 35th President of the United States.
In 1914 young banker Joseph P. Kennedy purchased this modest, 2-½-story residence in the Boston suburbs and moved into it with his new bride, the former Rose Fitzgerald, to start a family. Their eldest child, Joseph Jr., was born in Hull, Massachusetts, but his first three siblings, John, Rosemary and Kathleen were all born on Beals Street. Witthin a few years, the Kennedys quickly outgrew the residence and in 1921, when John was only 4 years old, they moved to a larger residence only a few blocks away, at the northeast corner of Naples and Abbotssford Roads.
Since that time, the Kennedy home has had various owners. In 1961 the town of Brookline marked it with a commemorative plaque. 4 years later it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The following year, the Kennedy family purchased it for preservation as a historic site. The President’s mother, Rose, supervised restoration and refurnishing of the first two floors to their 1917 appearance, and in 1967 the family donated the residence to the Federal Government.
A nine-room, clapboarded structure dating from 1907, the house has a gabled and dormered roof and a small front porch. The first floor contains a hall, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The second floor contains a hall, study, guestroom, nursery, master bedroom (where John, Rosemary and Kathleen were all born), and bath. The furnishings of these two floors are either original or other Kennedy family items, period pieces, or reproductions. The recorded voice of the President’s mother describes the significance of each room. The third floor, originally a servants’ quarters, contains an administrative office and is not open to the public.
A few other structures associated with the Kennedys are within easy walking distance of the national historic site including the John’s second childhood home, where the family loved from 1921 until 1927, before moving to Riverdale in Bronx, NY. It was in this house that Mrs. Kennedy bore three more children–Eunice, Patricia, and Robert–and John spent his years from 4 to 10, during which time he first went to school, learned to love sports, and established a lifelong reading habit. Jean and Edward were born after the family moved to New York.
While they lived in Brookline, the Kennedys attended St. Aidan’s Catholic Church, on Freeman Street, which has since been extensively altered. Joseph, Jr., and John were baptized there and served as altar boys. They also attended nearby Dexter School, a private, nonsectarian institution also on Freeman Street, but the school has moved to a new campus and the building in which they went to class no longer stands. Finally, on Harvard Avenue, is the public Edward Devotion School, which they attended for a short time before transferring to the Dexter School. In front of the former is the Edward Devotion House, a historic structure dating from the early 1700’s. The Brookline Historical Society operates it as a museum.
National Historic Register #67000001
Explore: May 7, 2007