Joe and Rose's Hyannis Port House

April 18, 2016 Notes: In 1926 Joseph and Rose Kennedy rented a summer cottage at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port. Two years later, they purchased the structure, which had been erected in 1904, and enlarged and remodeled it to suit their family's needs. In and around this house, their nine children spent their summers, acquiring a lifelong interest in sailing and other competitive activities.

In 1956, Jack bought a smaller home of his own at 111 Irving Avenue not far from his father's home. Subsequently, Ted acquired the residence at 28 Marchant Avenue adjacent to the other two in 1959 and sold it to Bobby and his wife Ethel in 1961. Edward lived in the compound until his death.

Known as the Main House and the largest of the three, Joe and Rose's house is surrounded by well-tended lawns and gardens and it commands sweeping views of the ocean from its long porches.

On the main floor are a living room, dining room, sun room, television room, the bedroom that John used before he purchased his own house in the compound, the kitchen, and various pantries and utility rooms. On the second floor are six bedrooms, a sewing room, packing room, and four servants' bedrooms. The house has a full attic.

The basement contains a motion-picture theater and a hall covered with dolls from all around the world. A wine cellar designed after a ship's hull and a sipping room – one of the Kennedy family's favorite hideouts. It is considered the place that Ted coined the well-known toast "There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be."

In 2012 the main house was donated by the Kennedy family to the Edward Kennedy Institute for the US Senate, which said it would host educational seminars in the house and that it will open it to the public at specific times. On the grounds are an enclosed swimming pool, tennis court, a four-car garage, and two guest houses.

There are two circular driveways with flagpoles standing in the middle, a boathouse and several large stretches of lawn area where the many family touch football games were played.

Other parcels of land that assorted members of the family have purchased remain as well-tended as those of the more prominent homes.  (Wikipedia)

Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)

JB West

March 31, 2016 Notes: James Bernard West (July 27, 1912 – July 18, 1983), known as J. B. West, was Chief Usher at the White House from 1957 to 1969. His best-selling book, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies (with Mary Lynn Kotz), documents his time in the executive mansion and is considered a good source of material on the First Families he served.

He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings, funerals, gardens, playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For 28 years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests - including friends, relatives, and heads of state.

He was heavily involved in Jackie's White House restoration project and the two became very close. In 1963 Jackie surprised her lifetime confidante Nancy Tuckerman, then serving as White House Social Secretary, with a birthday party. At the party, West dressed up as "Miss Ward" the former headmistress of Miss Porter's School, where the two women attend school as young girls. West and Kennedy remained in contact after the assassination and often corresponded, with Jackie sending him notes and funny sketches.

West announced his retirement from the White House on November 14, 1968. According to author Ronald Kessler, however, an investigation into missing items at the White House had supposedly discovered that West let friends into the White House for after-hour tours and some of them had stolen White House mementos. According to Kessler again, the investigation also reportedly concluded West was a homosexual, which at the time made him a blackmail/security risk. West was forced to retire, or be dismissed. West left the White House on March 1, 1969. (Wikipedia)

Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)


111 Irving Avenue: The President's House

March 15, 2016 Notes:  In 1956 John and Jackie Kennedy bought a smaller Hyannis Port home of their own at 111 Irving Avenue, not far from that of his father and mother. Many press pictures from the 1960 campaign were taken here. Jackie spent time here in later years, and JFK Jr. used the house extensively before his death.  Caroline sold the house to her Uncle Teddy in 2005 after holding an auction selling many of its furnishings. Ted sold the house to his son Ted Jr. sometime around 2008.

A significant portion of the furniture and decorations in the Kennedy's "President's House" Hyannis Port home was part of a collection of furniture and folk art purchased by the Kennedy family from Gerald Shea, a highly-regarded dealer in American decorative arts in the 1950s and 1960s.

Among the works from the Shea Collection sold in the 1995 Sotheby's auction was a Portrait of Captain Platt out of Portsmouth, with a Clipper Ship in the Distance, attributed to Frederick Mayhew, circa 1830, which hung behind President Kennedy in an official portrait taken during the summer of 1960. Captured in that iconic photograph, which would eventually grace the cover of the November 16, 1960 issue of Life Magazine.

Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)

Nancy Reagan's Funeral Invitation

March 9, 2016 Notes: Nancy Reagan's funeral invitation courtesy of PPB contributor Rusty Thomas. He will be in attendance per the wishes of Mrs. Reagan. Rusty, thanks for being a good friend to the former First Lady.

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.