21 August 2008

A Piece of History For Sale

Hickory Hill

In England, many houses have names - not addresses. The five most popular names given to English houses are Orchard House, The Coach House, The Bungalow, Rose Cottage, and the number one name is simply, "The Cottage." How romantic would it be to have a name for your home? I especially like two other, less popular names for houses in England: Honeysuckle Cottage and The Vicarage. Hmm.....What would I name my own house, I wonder? "Big Dying Tree" or how about "Garage Filled with Junk so Cars Park Outside?" Has a certain ring to it.

In America - naming your house is usually reserved for the upper echelons of society. Everyone has heard of Mount Vernon, Fallingwater, and Monticello, The Biltmore Estate, and The Playboy Mansion - all very famous houses indeed! Say the name "Hickory Hill" and what immediately comes to mind - touch football and lots of handsome children running around? Yes, Hickory Hill, the longtime home of Ethel and Robert Kennedy is known by it's name alone. Nobody knows the street it is on or its address, but everyone knows what Hickory Hill is. Located in McLean, Virginia, just 15 minutes to the Capitol, it is the house where the Kennedys raised their large family and lived happily until Bobby's untimely death while running for president in the summer of 1968. Surprisingly, Ethel has continued to live there alone, long after all her children have grown, although it is reported that she now spends most of her time at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. Now, after over 5o years at Hickory Hill, Ethel is finally unloading it. She originally put the house on the market four years ago at 25 million. Today, the asking price is down to a paltry 12.5 million.

Built in the mid 1800s, the Colonial was enlarged and remodeled in the 60s to accommodate the 11 Kennedy children. Originally Joe Kennedy, Bobby's father, bought the house for John and Jacqueline Kennedy. After suffering a miscarriage, Jackie found the house too depressing, so it was sold in 1957 to Bobby and Ethel who already had a large family and were expecting to have an even larger one. The house is quite historic, the front steps of the home actually came from Mt. Vernon, George Washington's house. The person who buys it is definitely buying an important piece of American history. Inside, there is a sitting room and library directly on each side of a center hall. Further back off a lateral hall, there is a large 38 ft. drawing room. The floors down and up are pine and the ceilings are high. The drawing room and dining room both lead out to terraces that overlook the almost 6 acre property. Upstairs, the master suite has two bedrooms, a dressing suite and two bathrooms (how did Ethel ever manage to have so many children with separate bedrooms?!) Three more bedrooms with bathrooms are on the second floor. The third floor boasts seven bedrooms and three baths. The basement level has a family room, another bedroom and a laundry room.

On the property there is a pool with a pool house that includes his and hers bathrooms, a kitchen, and a movie theatre. There are also stables on the grounds and two garden sheds and a lighted tennis court. In total there are 13 bedrooms and 10 full baths, and too many fireplaces to count. Taxes were over $80,000 last year. It's hard to fathom that one woman lived alone all these years in a house this size, but apparently, she did. All in all, the property is a paradise for a large, rambunctious family, which the Kennedys certainly were. There has been a lot of buzz about why the house hasn't sold yet, especially since it's been reduced by half. Some think it's because Hickory Hill needs major updating, and others question the school district, but whomever can afford a house like this would certainly utilize private schools. My thoughts as to why it's still for sale is who has enough kids in this day and age to fill up a house this large?

I do know one thing, if I had a large family and the means, I would be first in line to buy this house. To me, it's such a piece of history, a wonderful story of a family that America once thought of as our royalty. While John and Jacqueline Kennedy were always the more popular and attractive ones of the Kennedys, I was more interested in Bobby and Ethel's family. All those children! I once knew all their names by heart -- first and middle ones too: Matthew Maxwell Taylor, Mary Kerry, Mary Courtney (two sisters with the same name, no less!), Kathleen Hartington, David Anthony, Douglas Harriman, Rory Elizabeth Katherine, to name just a few! I loved to see pictures of the loud, raucous family playing their touch football, sailing on the bay in Hyannis Port, or all dressed up in matching outfits going to Sunday Mass. Besides my fascination with their large family and the Kennedy Mystique in general, the actual house, Hickory Hill, held an allure for me. In fact, large homes in general appealed to me as a young girl. Especially irresistible were the Southern mansions with hanging moss in old oak trees and their sprawling rooms and secret, hidden passageways, the large attics and dank basements, the landscaped acreage - all those things that were so foreign to my childhood spent living in a 60's, one story, ranch burger.

Today, the Kennedy name no longer holds the same cachet it once did. America has moved on and left that part of our history behind. We don't have a royal family anymore, and maybe we don't want one. Time marches on. Most of Bobby and Ethel's children have gone on to have successful lives in, and mostly out, of politics. They are businessmen and filmmakers, conservationists and politicians. Two have passed on, one killed by drugs and one by a skiing accident. Their children, themselves, are now posed at adulthood, making them the fourth generation of Kennedys. When Hickory Hill eventually does sell, it will be the end of an era for those of us who lived through it all -- the presidency, the assassination, the highs and lows, Camelot. To those of us who are baby boomers, it's hard to explain to the younger generation the effect this family had on our lives - they were our stars, our heroes.

Hickory Hill

Hickory Hill - three stories tall - proudly flying the United States flag.

Blue Room

The Blue Room - this is the library, it is to the right when entering the front door. Classic proportions, marble mantel, beautiful windows, it just needs a fresh coat of paint, new fabrics and slipcovers, and some seagrass. I wouldn't change a thing more.

Sitting Room

The pink Sitting Room, off the entry to the left. Through the door is the yellow, formal Drawing room, reached also by the lateral hallway just past the entry hall. A drawing of Robert Kennedy is hanging on the wall. Again, classic proportions, large, and with just a few updates, the room would be perfect.

Dining Room

The formal Dining Room, accessed off the lateral hall and adjoining the Drawing room. The large terrace overlooks the spacious grounds. The French furniture is just prefect. Again, new curtains, paint, and some youthful slipcovers and it's good to go! The painting of the little girl is Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, their oldest child. The other two paintings are of two of the other 11 children.

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Towards the back of the property, the pool and pool house stand alone, secluded inside a large hedge. Very nice. I wonder when was the last time anyone went swimming in here? Grandchildren, perhaps?

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The family in the early sixties - with just seven children (Bobby Jr. is missing here). Not sure which room this is, but notice the white slipcovered sofa! So fine! The chairs wear a lovely blue chintz. The table is a cheap reproduction. The lamps and plates are antique porcelains. And, the painting - does anyone know who's the artist? The woman on the left looks exactly like Jackie O! Notice the room next door - those curtains show up in another picture below.

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This is the same room as above, redecorated. The door is the same and the two paintings on the wall above the sofa are the same. I think I like it decorated in the blue and white better.

Hickory Hill Guest Room

House and Garden photographed the home in the early sixties. I wish I could see all the photos, but just this one is on the Internet. Wonderful slipcovered furniture that looks so today - as does the bleached armoire. There's even a lantern. I love the textured curtains. This was called a guest room in the article, but it seems like the same room off the blue sitting room two pictures above (note the same curtains.) The ceiling and brick walls are throwing me off - I just can't figure out where this room fits into the floor plan. Anyone have any ideas? The Kennedys updated and remodeled in the 60s and this room might be a reflection of that time.

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The stairway in the lateral hall, with the four children ready for bed, 1957. The stairway is small and is quite a disappointment to me - I would imagine there would be a grand staircase right off the entryway.

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1957, praying before bedtime in one of the children's toy filled rooms.

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1958, getting ready for Michael's baptism. I assume this is one of the master bedrooms. I love the shelf between the windows with the flowering plant and small mirror. Such a sweet picture! Look at the little girl, Mary Courtney, to her mother's left staring up intently at her.

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In 1958,the family posed in this room - with six children and a huge St. Bernard dog. The white slipcovered sofa is the same as the sofa in the previous picture, but the room is different, more dressy. The french chair on the left and the french coffee table are reproductions. The brass side table here is used as the coffee table in the guest room picture show previously.

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Again, 1958, six children, this time posing in yet another room with a series of prints above the tweedy sofa. This may be the library. The boys all look so cute in their matching shorts and suspenders!

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1959, this time the baby's baptism is Mary Kerry's. Notice the beautiful chintz on the chair and ottoman, and the gorgeous French secretary to the left in the back. The curtains are rather elaborate here with tassel fringe. This most certainly is the formal Drawing room. The portrait of Kathleen is on the right, today it hangs in the dining room. Bobby Jr., left, front, always looks so sad in all the pictures.

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Another view of the formal Drawing room. Rough housing, as usual. Again, the chintz chair and ottoman, the fancy tassel trimmed curtains, and the portrait of Kathleen and another little boy, maybe Michael.

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The 1959 Kennedy Christmas Card - all in pajamas, waiting for Santa Claus. Of these children, David is passed of a drug overdose, and Michael of a skiing accident - shortly after it was discovered he had had an affair with his teenaged babysitter.

After having a new baby almost each year, the family remained like this, with seven children for another three years.

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In 1960, Ethel reads to her seven children. The painting above is of David (holding onto Ethel) and Bobby Jr. - sitting on the left of the sofa. This painting is by the same artist that painted Kathleen, today hanging in the dining room.

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Dinner in the early sixties. Isn't this beautiful? The crystal chandelier, the fireplace mantel, the french lavabo to the right of the fireplace. The table seems small for so many (Bobby Sr. is missing here), but I love the chairs. Notice how little Mary Courtney's linen napkin has fallen to the floor. Ethel looks a little harried here, I wonder why? Look at all these children and realize she still has four more to come! This room is not the formal dining room, so I suspect it was a table set up in another room - I just can't figure out which though.

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1960 with a sporty sofa, dark with white trim. From the front left, Kathleen, the oldest, looking happy as usual, Bobby looking down, not engaged, as usual, and Joe to the front, looking a little too old to be wearing dress shorts! David sits on his father's lap - he is usually shown clinging to one of his parents. Mary Courtney, Michael, and Mary Kerry on the back left.

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In 1961, the four boys posed on a charming French day bed in their robes. From left, Bobby Jr., pensive, David clinging, Robert, proud, Michael happy, Joe, looking handsome.

A wintry Google satellite shot from above shows the aerial view of the property with the main house, the pool house and the stables are at the back right, and the tennis court is at the back left. Sure doesn't look like six acres from this view, does it?

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A picture from the stables - you can see the Hickory Hill name spelled out on the blanket over the stall. Ethel looks so young, thin, and pretty here in her riding attire.

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This picture was taken in 1957, the baby is Mary Courtney.

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A horse drawn buggy on the grounds on a wintry day. Hickory Hill was famous for the animals that roamed all over the property. Horses and dogs were numerous in those days.

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A wintry day of touch football. The house looks almost spooky in this picture! It seems as if it had not been landscaped yet. The back side of the house, you can see what the left wing looked like before it was added. The formal, large Drawing room is located in the left wing, as is the master suite above it.

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1960, lunch on the patio out back.

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The back side of the house with the tree house showing, horses and rough housing boys, just another day at Hickory Hill.

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1963, a Christmas scene in the manger/stable. There are eight children now, the baby is Christopher George. After having a baby almost every year, there was a 3 year break between Mary Kerry and Christopher. Three more children were born in the next five years, making a total of 11. Ethel was said to have wanted more children than her mother-in-law, Rose, who had nine. Jackie Kennedy, who had two children, several miscarriages and a baby who died after a few days, was said to have felt inadequate next to Ethel's easy child birthing skills. Interesting to note that Jackie Kennedy was a closet chain smoker and perhaps her problems with pregnancies were actually caused by her smoking habit.

Notice the assortment of animals here, dogs, horses, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, and goats. Bobby Jr. is today a famous falconer and he says his love of animals started at Hickory Hill.

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A shot of the back of the house showing the left wing addition with the large paned glass windows and balcony on the second floor.

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1967, a year before RFK's assassination. The back yard with the large tree house on the left. Ten children down, one child left to go. The youngest child, Rory Elizabeth Katherine, was the little baby girl that was born after Robert's assassination. She was named Rory in memory of her father - Ethel rejected the suggestion she name her Roberta.

President John F. Kennedy's funeral. The event that changed America forever. Here John Jr. gives his famous salute to his father's passing casket.

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1964. Another famous Kennedy scene, visiting the graves of John and Robert Kennedy on their birthdays. Here, the Robert Kennedy family visit John's grave. This is his original grave site before the permanent one was erected. Surrounded by a quaint picket fence, the mound around the eternal flame held all the different hats he wore in his service to the country. Jackie Kennedy insisted there be the eternal flame on his grave site. Each year, it was a huge media event when the family visited the grave site. Odd to think of that, today.

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The funeral of Robert Kennedy. At the far left, Eunice Shriver, Robert's sister and mother of Maria Shriver, First Lady of California. Next to her is Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver. In front of Eunice is Rose Kennedy, Robert and Eunice's mother. Next is David Kennedy, hands clasped and Michael in front of him, Courtney has a mantilla on her head. Standing next to Ethel is Robert Kennedy, Jr., the famous conservationist and falconer. Robert Jr. is probably is the most famous of the 11 children and is credited with saving the Hudson River from total pollution.

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The Third Generation Kennedy cousins, all grown up in the 70's. David Kennedy is on the back row, left, next Kathleen, Robert Jr. has the wavy, long hair (!!), and Joe is next to him, then Michael. This photo was taken at Rose's house in Cape Cod.

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When Hickory Hill sells, it will be the end of an era for the Robert Kennedy family. Here, Robert and Ethel, looking almost like twins, were photographed at Hickory Hill when they were very young, happy, and optimistic.

83 comments:

  1. That last photo - so toothy! Great article, Joni.

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  2. Oh wow! How do you put a price on history? These photos are great.

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  3. Such a beautiful house, but the energy of the family living there overshadows it in every way. It should become a library or something. Probably very hard for anyone not in the clan to live with the ghosts. I have a house that bears the name of the family that built and owned it for a hundred and fifty years. They seem to have scattered to the four winds in the sixties, since I've never met one, but all the eighty year olds in town have very strong opinions about the house and what I do to it, and in restoring it I learn a little about the people who lived here so long. But I don't have to know all their tragedies and potential.

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  4. Such a wonderful post, Joni. And such an iconic house. The main photo of the home is quintessential Americana at it's idealistic best. Positive, big-hearted, and hospitable. It represents so much of our history, from the happiest of times, to the saddest. It is hard to believe it's being sold.

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  5. Like walking back in time. What a wonderful group of pictures. Feels like looking at the old family photo album..You mention Robert always looked so sad...maybe he was just exhausted being a parent to so many and working etc... I think Ethel was quite beautiful. She was more wholesome, but I think just as beautiful as Jackie in her own right. Love the last portrait of them.. It will be most interesting to see when the house sells and for how much...and it would be even more interesting to see what the new home owner does to the interiors...maybe House Beautiful will catch up with them!

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  6. Great photos and historical context Joni. But forgive me, this is one baby boomer who would never think of this family as one of heroes. The women who put up with those men were possibly heroes - for their love and dedication to their families - but not the male side in any generation. Jackie Kennedy had it right to keep her kids as far away from Hyannisport as possible once JFK was gone. Drug addicts and alcoholics, rapes, accidental deaths, spousal abuse and payoffs are hardly the stuff of Camelot.

    They did always have nice homes though.

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  7. Hey all, I found the address... it is 1147 Chain Bridge Road. The house is on www.realtor.com... Pretty interesting..there is no mention of Hickory Hill or who the previous owner was... I don't know..you'd think the Realtor would advertise it as Hickory Hill!! He might realize a sale much quicker!!! Go check it out! I am an agent, and think this house could be advertised a LOT better!!

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  8. Probably a hard sell because who could possibly want to be in the shadow of the Kennedys forever?

    By the way, our house in England was named "Brown Gables". The first one was called "Walnut Lea". When we built our vacation home last year, I dubbed it "Brown Gables" and have the plaque made in England for the original on the right of the doorway at the new place. It wasn't until a few years ago that the houses were also given numbers. Made finding someone's house for the first time a MESS! :)

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  9. What a fun, informative post, Joni! I loved all of the pictures and your commentary. Pretty amazing that a $12+ million house would still have window units, though!

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  10. For a more realistic, less dewy-eyed look at Ethel (and the house; under her stewardship, it got totally trashed, with dogs shitting on the floors, etc.), read:

    The Other Kennedy Wife
    by Jerry Oppenheimer

    http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0312956002?pageNumber=2&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

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  11. My husband is the middle child of nine children born in 10 years. I have one sister and entering into a large family has been, for the most part, a delight. I loved your post. I loved those years...but having lived through them, I cannot help but worry about our young candidate...there are so many nuts out there.

    Thank you again for the time and effort you spent on this wonderful presentation.

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  12. Wonderful post, Joni! The pictures, Hickory Hill, and family's history are all equally interesting.

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  13. I can pretty much guarantee you that this house will needs lots of updating. The first thing that struck me on the first picture is that I count at least FIVE window air conditioning units!!! $12.5 million and no central air?

    I can't imagine that there's a family large enough and wealthy enough to give this house the kind of energy that will help it thrive once again.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

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  14. I just found your blog and I find it wonderful and inspirational. This post is so interesting - you collected pictures and materials that me, living in Poland would never learn probably. Thank you for sharing.
    Do you mind me to add you to my blogroll?
    Greetings,
    Ewa

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  15. Incredible post...wow! I could go on and on about it but I'll just say thanks for a great read and fab photo research.
    That guest room location question you had - I think it feels like it could be a part of the pool house, check out the light quality...it looks like the light that gets reflected off a pool...and note the pitch of the ceiling, very similar to the pool house roof pitch.

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  16. Thanks for all the comment y'all - except Anon - as usual, negativity. Take it to a negative blog, ok?

    Balsamfir -email me ok???? I want to thank you for all your comments but I can't!!!!!!!!

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  17. Oh, doesn't this post make me a little misty! I think all of America just loved that this Irish Catholic immigrant family truly had achieved the American dream.
    Ethel really was quite pretty. I am so amazed that she kept such a trim figure.
    This was such a special post. Thank you.

    Yes, I am related to Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW). My great grandfather, Lansford James and her father, Charles Ingalls were brothers. My grandfather is mentioned in "Little House in the Big Woods".
    Miss Sandy from Quill Cottage blog did a LIW series in June. You can see various photos of my family there.

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  18. Shelley - I thought about the pool house too - but it doesn't match the description of the pool house given.

    But - because the roof is pitched I'm thinking that that room could be in the right wing or the left wing before it was added on. I don't know - I can not figure it all out. I studied it all for a few hours today and couldn't figure it out.

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  19. I forgot to mention that my husband's family lives in a home called Dawney Hill near Surrey and our close friend David lives at Cranberry House 7 Blue Gate near Cambridge. Both are quite smashing!

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  20. I loved this post...what a great walk down memory lane. The house is so full of history and life and living!! What a legacy.

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  21. Really interesting post, Joni! And just as an aside on the house naming in England... yes it's charming, but gosh, it sure makes thoses homes hard to find! My SatNav isn't state of the art, so I can't just plug in a post code (zip code--they're very specific here in England). On the other hand, it makes driving such an adventure--haha!

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  22. This was a fabulous photo essay posting. So very reminiscent of the 60's and early 70's. Pictures really do tell the story.

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  23. Your blog is one of my all-time favs, such a great writer and informative. I can't wait to see what you put up next - it's all right up my alley! Keep the great blogging up!

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  24. "When he seventy five, jazz trumpeter Max Roach remarked that he still missed his collaborator, trumpeter Clifford Brown, every day. Clifford had died in a car accident. 'I never got over it,' Max said."

    "A lot of us feel that way about RFK."

    Journalist Jack Newfield made the above comments in his superb memoir, "Somebody's Gotta Tell It." I voted for the first time in 1968 (when you had to be 21) and I never got over it.

    How can you get over a man who says "I run for the presidency because I want the United States to stand for the reconciliation of men."? Bobby Kennedy's death was a tragedy for our country. It has taken 40 years for a candidate to emerge who can repair our losses.

    But if all anyone can comment about are bad male behavior and window air conditioners then I think we must be so spoiled and thoughtless that we have no chance to ever regain our standing in the world.

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  25. Thank you Joni. This is an incredible post!

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  26. Your posts are always so educational and well-thought out. Thank you! As interesting as the house itself is, I enjoyed the family photos even more.

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  27. So nostalgic! Makes me long for the days of black and white photos. It reminds me of growing up in a big family--the house wasn't so grand, but the kids were just as rowdy!

    Thanks for taking us back in time.

    Angela P.

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  28. This episode is fascinating.....I feel as though I'm watching a fabulous series that I must watch every week(or day). I have turned my friends on to your sensational site and now we discuss.....similiar to a book club. I met Bobby Kennedy days before he was killed. My boss(college job) gave thousands to his campaign, and Bobby was visiting his office. His eyes were amazing and his manner quite comfortable. I was 19. Thanks for the memories. Ginny

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  29. Another great post! Two great photos in color can be found in "House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration". One is on page 93 and shows the blue and white sitting room. The other on page 182 is of the family dining room with the painted white chairs. I loved the fact that while the room was beautiful and elegant the painted chairs with loose seat cushions and the bare floor were so child friendly. I used that idea for my own family dining room in the 60s. The painting, console, and lavabo shown in this photo are perfect in the room. So airy and charming!
    Marion from Kentucky

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  30. I had a friend who grew up in their neighborhood. On Halloween in the 1970s (early 70s, maybe also late 60s) all the neighborhood kids, as opposed to kids whose families drove them in to trick-or-treat in this rich neighborhood, knew to go to the back door, where they were given Kennedy dollar coins as treats.

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  31. A really interesting and informative post! Having not lived through that time, I always find it interesting to look at the photos - I think they say a lot. I love how they seem very normal, playing with the children and having all the animals around. To the above commenter about the animal feces - with 11 kids, a house that big, and several animals, I'm sure there were a few accidents. And I'm sure that the house did get banged up a bit. But that's family life.

    I love that many of the interiors still look stylish today, I love the room with the bleached out armoire, painted brick, and painted wooden ceiling! But I don't love the window units. I guess whoever buys this house will have to install central air.... hmmm, hope that doesn't break their budget! ;-)

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  32. Wonderful - both the post and the house.

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  33. Wow, I this was a fabulous post. I had a vague idea of where and what Hickory Hill, but this was a fascinating history lesson. Makes me a little sad that it's for sale.

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  34. Oh, how I wish that Hickory Hill would remain in the RFK family... it's such a "forever house". I remember a rather critical observation in the sixties that Ethel and Bobby allowed the children and their much-loved menagerie to play on Aubusson rugs and run unfettered through their beautiful home. I found that so telling...family won out every time with the boisterous Kennedy clan. And do not get me started on JFK and the glorious Jacqueline. I have untold volumes on their lives and homes...from their first townhouse in Georgetown to Jackie's final saltbox on Martha's Vineyard and iconic apartment at 1040 Park Avenue. Frankly, I miss the Kennedy's passion for America, graciousness, intellect, class, grace, and beauty. Thank you, Joni, for what I consider an important, bittersweet post.

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  35. Joni, you are amazing. This post is a treasure. Thank you for sharing so much information.
    To nasty anon...we who have had kids and pets with home accidents can identify with this brood. That's part of being a real home and not just a house...the best part!

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  36. They may have been Roman Catholics but the mood of the house is East Coast WASP.
    Loved the "textured" curtains in what might have been a sun room. Presumably the texture was formed by short fringes applied in a grid pattern. Not a bad idea actually.
    Joni, you are totally correct when you say that a younger generation is indifferent to the Kennedy mystique. They would never grasp the glamour of that era nor its sharp contrasts to what prevailed in the 1950s.

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  37. Several years ago we were in Newport, RI and visited Hammersmith Farms, the summer White House of JFK. I fell in love with chinz and chase lounges all over again when we saw this wonderful house.

    Seeing Hickory House brought back many wonderful memories for me.

    Jill S

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  38. Great photo selections and nice commentary to go along with them.

    Interesting read. Glad I popped in for a visit.

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  39. Joni:

    Loved this post!! I've driven by Hickory Hill twice and find it a little hard to see from the street..it's in a very wooded area. ... the street is 2 lanes, curvy, little hills and you have to pay attention on the stretch near the house. Loved the living room slip covers especially the blue & white chintz...Great pics...you have hidden sources... Fay

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  40. Fascinating look into a world that was. Thank you! I do hope Hickory Hill will find just the right owners who will both respect its past and give it a new, happy purpose! Btw, this real estate site does mention the Kennedy ownership, as well as the age of the house: http://www.wfp.com/propertySearch/prop.asp?id=33844263

    Danielle C.

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  41. After reading this wonderful post today, I recalled having read this blurb in the WP recently.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/24/AR2008072404069_2.html

    Apparently, last night, one could have had a glimpse at the interior of Hickory Hill as a documentary on Helen Thomas was filmed there. Directed and conducted by Rory, daughter of RFK, this was an HBO special and will no doubt be re-aired and be available on Netflix as well as other media outlets soon.

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  43. Thank you for this exceptional post. I'm going to point to it on my site - I hate for anyone to miss this. I'm just filled with pangs of forgotten memories and nostalgia. I'd buy it too! If...
    Devonia

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  44. It is a beautiful house, and so filled with history. It seems a shame that it could not be preserved for history...

    In the early years after the death of JFK, Jackie lived in our area of NJ. We would sometimes see Carolyn or John at horse shows. Jackie drove a green BMW. Once I even saw her at the supermarket, buying asparagus. No one ever bothered her. Today, of course, she would probably be hounded by papperazzi...

    Great post, Joni!
    xoxo,
    Mary

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  45. Thank you for that. It made my heart hurt. I'm sending it to my mom right now. She'll cry.

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  46. Lot of kids... lot of teeth... speaking of teeth... anything new?

    I have a funny story about the Kennedys... when we were back in Mass in 2003... we went to Hyannis... and went to a little ice cream stand... my youngest then 5... decided he didn't want to sit with us and walked over to a "big family gathering" at a few tables and sat down with them... I went over and apologized and tried to get him to come back to our table... one of "the family" members told me... he's fine... we're used to a BIG family... so he stayed there eating his ice cream and when everyone was ready to leave he walked back to us... LOL... he is a spirited child!

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  47. Joni darling, Not that you need another rave review, but I must tell you that this post is stunning! Poignant...
    I think the photo from House and Garden is a sun porch somewhere in that huge and lovely home.
    I named my little beach house in East Hampton! It was an old sail maker's store, back in the section known as The Springs, where all the carpenters, fishermen, and artists lived. My house was an abandoned little Victorian, vacant for years, when some folks took it on as a spec house, and dolled it up. It still sat unsold for a few years, until I came along. When people would ask me where I lived, and I told them, they always said "Oh That House". So I marched right down to the hardware store where they sold those fancy signs for those huge cottages like Hickory Hill, and had them make one for my little house.
    Sadly I had to sell the house, but I have a painting of the house, and the sign - "Oh That House."

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  48. 1147 Chain Bridge Rd
    McLean Virginia.

    Did you really think I wouldn't know? It's a lovely old home with history even before the Kennedys. Good piece, Joni.

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  49. Hey... don't forget about another well-known child: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former Lt. Governor of Maryland!

    That last picture is just amazing.

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  50. I keep returning to this post to look at all these wonderful photos! I just love them. I also adore the color of the shutters on the house. And, did you notice all the window unit air-conditioners?

    I'm sure this isn't the last time I take a break to sit here with my coffee and look at this!!

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  51. ~~~I love reading this! Thank you~~~

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  52. Wow, Joni. This was SO interesting. I loved the family photos best. Having lived outside of Boston for 5 years, not too many people have central air conditioning. You only need it about 1 or 2 weeks a year. They could just take out the units and put in an attic fan. Thanks for the lovely look at the past.
    Karen B.

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  53. I hate to be a little brown cloud but Hickory Hill has not an ounce of chic or style. It's a big, friendly, galumphing house, with a hardwearing, largely undistinguished preppy decor to match, but no style. Zip. That being said, I wouldn't mind owning it, because know precisely how I'd decorate it!

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  54. Great walk down memory lane. Have enjoyed your blog for a year now, you whisk me away to such lovely idyllic thoughts and places. You have actually been part of my therapy while I deal the ugliness, frustration, and rebirth from of the aftermath of what Mother Nature bestowed on myself and my entire Gulf Coast.
    I hope you do not mind that linked you on my blog. Thank you for your inspiration!

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  55. Wow, Joni, this was a great post! I'm just barely peeking my head back in to blogland after the wedding! I can see I got behind here! Off to catch up!

    Happy day,
    Melissa

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  56. I know you get tired of hearing this, but you continue to post amazing things. I think you really tap into some core obsessions of those of us who read your blog. Not merely design, but the notion of how homes and designs reveal lives. One interesting thing about these pics: you never see one single servant anywhere and there must have been LEGIONS of them, don't you think? Also dog hair and worse all over every surface.

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  57. So very, very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to put all of that together for us! I really enjoy your blog!

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  58. Great post....loved reading it. Out in the country where I live a lot of homes have names. Mine is CedarHill. ~ Lynn

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  59. Joni- you are amazing. This post is amazing. To gather all of these photos in one place! I loved seeing them all. I am curious as to how the house sells. There must be some who would be thrilled to own this property.

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  60. I loved this post and viewing all the amazing pictures of the home and the family. What a history lesson too. Thank you for sharing this wonderful but of America!
    Blessings, Celestina,
    la rea rose

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  61. I loved this tour of the Kennedy home and your commentary was wonderful! Laurie

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  62. I have such an addiction to your blog! I must confess I've just recently discovered the world of blogging and now that I've made this discovery I just cannot stop! You're attention to detail and wonderful descriptions of homes and their designers/owners is beyond fascinating to me. And Hickory Hill? Well, let's just say I've read through your blog 3 times now and I'm sure I'll view it a few more times in anticipation of your next entry! Thanks so much for all of your effort... it's much appreciated! ~Heather

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  63. your decorating skills, your storytelling skills, your researching skills.. always make for a great visit. I remember pictures of this family home in Life magazine... some of the pics had a norman rockwell feel... and the lucious room with the textured drapes... you said it... so 60s but so current. thanks again Joni... you are always a treat !

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  64. What a comprehensive post. One thing I noticed was all the air conditioning window units. I checked out the listing and didn't see central air (could have missed it though). I can see true New Englander's not being willing to install the central air...

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  65. What a beautiful, glamorous family. The home is so lovely and looks like it was so well loved and enjoyed. Makes me wish I had more children and more money to bring it back to life (not that we could ever look this glamorous). Fabulous post - feels like I've been to an American History lesson.

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  66. Oh, the Kennedy's were such a facination for us all back in the day. Thanks for this great post about these most interesting folks. I love the house and house names, we have used them for years.
    Hugs,
    Sue

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  67. Incredible post - it's left me speechless. So sad for his family to lose him. Beautiful photos you found.

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  68. Wow, Joni, are you sure you didn't miss your calling as an American Historian? To say your research is thorough or extensive is a gross understatement!! Amazing amount of photos you were able to acquire. I can't believe they are selling Hickory Hill. Can you imagine all that has gone down there? Sheesh! An old boyfriend of mine married Ethel's personal assistant - she was a literal "fly on the wall" at HH for a time.

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  69. I learned so much about Robert and Ethel Kennedy and their family from this post! What amazing pictures you assembled for us, as usual. This has to be one of my favorites. Thanks! -Julia

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  70. As always your post was fabulous. You have such amazing photos and your post are so well put together, you have out done yourself. Thanks for sharing. Dana

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  71. Since yesterday you've got a new admirer from Switzerland. Your blog is absolutely outstanding. And what makes moi laugh because it is so amusing is your French- just charming !

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  72. Thank you so much for sharing this post. The home is beautiful and expensive, but the family history is priceless!

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  73. wow!!!!!!!! THANK YOU for sharing this. I, too, at one time knew all the names of the RFK children. I was a HUGE RFK fan. In all my memories, photos, articles and scrapbooks, I never saw an article quite like this one! again...thank you. i'll bookmark your blog and check it out again!

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