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35th President’s Birthplace a Stone’s Throw Away

Tour Brookline house where JFK was born

JFK Birth house in Brookline, Massachusetts

The Brookline, Mass., home where President John F. Kennedy was born is run by the National Park Service and is open to the public from May through October. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Looking for something to do during a long lunch break? Consider taking the T to Brookline to tour the house where President John F. Kennedy was born, on May 29, 1917.

The Kennedy family lived in the three-story home at 83 Beals St. from 1914 to 1920. The president’s parents, Joseph and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, moved into the wood-frame house as newlyweds, and by the time they left six years later, four of their nine children had been born—Joseph, Jr., JFK, Rosemary, and Kathleen.

The Kennedy family bought back the Beals Street house in 1966, three years after President Kennedy’s assassination. In 1969, after a restoration supervised by Rose Kennedy, the property was given to the National Park Service, which continues to operate the National Historic Site today.

The house is comfortable, but far from palatial, with just three rooms on the ground floor. Only 20 percent of the furniture now in the house belonged to the Kennedys when they lived there; the rest are antiques provided by the family or bought during the refurbishing in the late ’60s. In the living room, visitors can see the baby grand piano that was given to Rose Kennedy as a wedding gift and played by a young JFK. Under the front window in the dining room are a small children’s table and two chairs, where JFK and his older brother, Joe, Jr., ate their meals as toddlers. Two small silver porringers, each engraved with their initials, sit atop the table.

Upstairs, visitors can peek into the master bedroom, where JFK was born 99 years ago. All of the clocks in the house are set to 3 p.m.—the time he was born. Across the hall is the small bedroom shared by JFK and Joe, Jr. The bassinet and christening gown used by all the Kennedy children are on display here, as well as several children’s books that belonged to the future president. Often sick as a child, he became an avid reader at a young age.

The John F. Kennedy National Historic Site, 83 Beals St., Brookline, Mass., is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays from May 21 to the end of October. The house is shown by guided tour between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; guided tours last about 30 minutes. From noon to 1 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. visitors may take a self-guided tour narrated by the president’s mother, Rose Kennedy, offered via cell phone. Admission is free. More information is available here. Find directions here.

This story was originally published June 17, 2011; it has been updated to include current information.

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john o'rourke, editor, bu today
John O’Rourke

John O’Rourke can be reached at orourkej@bu.edu.

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