A Lost Monument on Bowdoin Street

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By Kayla Mamelak
BU News Service

BOSTON — To the average passerby, President John F. Kennedy’s residence during his early years in Boston is just another apartment building in Boston. 122 Bowdoin Street, Apartment 36, was the home of President Kennedy before he moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but there is no monument, plaque, or even photo outside noting the fact that the 35th president  lived there.

Now known as Beacon Hill House, 122 Bowdoin Street,  is directly across the street from the Massachusetts State House, a convenient place for a future president to reside. The small businesses on each side of the Beacon Hill House played roles in the president’s day- to- day life in Boston as well. Beacon Hill Instant Shoe Repair, to the left of the building, is a place President Kennedy would drop off his shoes for shining.

“We are new owners now, he (Kennedy) died 50 years ago what do you expect? But I have heard stories, and seen pictures of him standing outside this very building,” says current owner of the shoe repair Raphael Grode.

Local lore is that two doors down from Kennedy’s apartment, at Statehouse Cleaner: Wash and Fold, they laundered some pretty famous shirts.

“I only know Kennedy lived there because I hear them say it when the Duck Boat tour passes by,” said Rose Backman, a cleaner employee. “There are no monuments or signs there saying Kennedy lived there, so there is no way the average person knows,” Backman said. “I guess it is just a hidden gem of Boston.”

“It is truly a shame,” says Grode, “Apartment 36 is a lost monument.”

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JFK’s front door for many years while running his congressional campaign. (Kayla Mamelak/ BU News Service)



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