In the middle of the block in a dense Brookline neighborhood of sturdy clapboard houses from 130 years ago—big porches, leaded windows, occasional turrets—is the home where John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President, was born.
The house at 83 Beals Street was built in 1909, and Joseph and Rose Kennedy moved there in 1914. Three years later, John was born in the master bedroom, their third child. But the house had only three bedrooms, and in 1920 the growing family moved to a larger home nearby (still privately owned). The new house had a huge wraparound porch, which Rose wanted, because she firmly believed children should play outside every day.
After the President’s assassination, the Kennedy family repurchased the house, and Rose restored it to how she remembered it to be in 1917, the year of Jack’s birth. She then donated the house to the National Park Service. Rangers are on hand for tours, and there’s a small gift shop in the basement. The tour is enhanced by recordings of Rose describing the family’s life.
The house was close to many neighborhood features important to the family. There were good schools, Saint Aidan’s Catholic Church (now converted to condominiums), playgrounds, and the trolley line to Boston, where, at age 25, the elder Kennedy was president of the Columbia Trust Bank. The Park Service brochure offers a walking tour of the neighborhood that includes the Kennedy family church, school, and other sites. Click here for more information and event schedules.
You may recall that Jack was a sickly child, suffering numerous childhood illnesses, including scarlet fever. Rose read to him for hours as he recuperated, and among his favorite books was the story of King Arthur and Camelot.