Location: Brookline, Massachusetts
Webpage: National Park
General Description: The John F Kennedy National Historic Site is the boyhood home of our 35th President. Known as Jack as a child, JFK was born on May 29, 1917 as the third child (second son) of Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy. As newly weds Joseph and Rose moved into the house in Brookline in 1914 rather then living with parents or in a rented apartment as was the norm for young couples of the time. At the time Brookine was a streetcar suburb of Boston, but provided the family with a sense of privacy they would not have had in Boston. Their home in Brookline was close to playgrounds, a Catholic church, good schools, retail stores, and a short streetcar ride into Boston. Rose was the oldest child of Boston Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald and was raised with a strong Irish Catholic sense of the world. Her education included convent school in The Netherlands, New England Conservatory in Boston, and Manhattan College of the Sacred Heart in New York City. As third generation immigrants, she strongly believed in education and public service which she instilled in all of her children. Her husband, Joseph Kennedy was a successful businessman and investor, but at the time of his marriage to Rose he was one of the youngest bank presidents in the US at age 25. Even though they lived in relatively modest neighborhood, they still could afford the assistance of a cook and maid which freed up Rose to devote her time to raising the children. At dinner they were each expected to comment on current events and speak their opinion which they would have to defend if challenged. They only lived at this house for 6 years before the family outgrew the three bedroom house, when they moved just a few blocks away in Brookline.
1) The Visitor Center is in the basement of the home in Brookline and consequently is very small. There is a short film about Rose Kennedy that does cover the six years they lived in this house.
2) I found it interesting that they sold the house after moving to a larger house, however, once JFK was elected President and assassinated while in office, this boyhood home became a national shrine. They obtained permission from the family living their to erect a stone monument in the front yard, but the family was continually being asked if visitors could view the house. Of course, there was nothing in the house from the time of JFK and the current family knew nothing about his childhood. Eventually Rose purchased the house and furnished the house as she remembered it from her years there. This is the house you now visit as the Historic Site. It is furnished with early 20th century chairs, tables, etc. She even installed a combination stove for both gas and coal in the kitchen that they had at the time. It made for a very interesting tour of the home where JFK lived for the first six years of his life.