Kennedy Home Preserved for Visitors
By Calla McLaughlin
BU News Service
BROOKLINE— Tucked away on a side street here, 83 Beals St., the birthplace of America’s 35th President, John F. Kennedy, attracts approximately 22,000 visitors a year according to Park ranger Jason Atsales. The light purple and green accented house was converted into a National Historic site with the assistance of Rose Kennedy, JFK’s mother, in 1969,
Most people associate JFK with his tragic death and family scandals, however, “The Beals house represents JFK’s birth and childhood,” said tour guide Cassidy Jones.
Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose had nine children. The first four, Joe, John, Rosemary, and Cathleen, were born at 83 Beals Street. (The growing family later moved to a larger house in Brookline in 1920).
The Beals Street home had three bedrooms: a master bedroom where baby pictures of the children are hung, and two small bedrooms that the boys and girls shared. Next to the master bedroom is Mrs. Kennedy’s study where she enjoyed sewing, reading, and writing detailed reports on her children’s health, well -being, and progress.
Downstairs, the kitchen was used not only for food preparation, but for warming and cooling the house. A modest bathroom was shared by eight people — the six Kennedys and their two maids who lived in the attic loft. There is also a living room that Rose Kennedy referred to as the “arts and culture room,” and the dining room that she said was “the most important room in the house because of family dinner conversations.”
The Kennedys encouraged their children from a young age to engage in stimulating discussions and thought. Rose Kennedy is quoted as saying: “I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.”
After the Kennedys moved out in 1920, Martha Pollock moved in. Rose Kennedy re-purchased the home in 1969 to honor her son, the late president. She designed the house according to her memory; some of the furniture has been refurbished or replicated based on her descriptions. All the silver and china dishes, as well as John’s bassinette, some photographs, and the piano are all original pieces.