John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
About This Audio-Described Brochure
Welcome to the audio-described version of the official print brochure for John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.
Through text and audio descriptions of the brochure's photos, illustrations, and maps, this audio version interprets the two-sided color brochure that park visitors receive.
The front of the brochure explores the life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, his family, and associates.
The back of the brochure explores the historic Brookline area, where you can visit John F. Kennedy's childhood home and related sites. Side two also includes two maps, tour stop information, the park's history, and essential information to help you plan your visit to the park.
This audio version lasts about 45 minutes, which we have divided into 32 sections, as a way to improve your listening experience.
Sections 1 through 12 cover the front of the brochure.
Sections 13 through 32 cover the back of the brochure.
We hope you enjoy this experience and learning more about John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.
About the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, located in Massachusetts, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior.
This small park is situated in Brookline, less than five miles southwest of Boston proper, and less than two miles southwest of the Charles River.
The park first opened to the public in 1969. Each year, thousands of visitors come to explore John F. Kennedy's birthplace home and childhood neighborhood, where he lived for ten years. Visitors can engage in opportunities to learn more about the life, family, ideas, and principles that helped shape the United States' 35th president, politically and personally.
A variety of experiences at the park can enhance your visit. Discover what it was like to grow up as a Kennedy in Brookline. Tour the streets young Kennedy roamed. Visit the home that his mother Rose personally decorated with family mementos and furnishings. Follow Kennedy's path from his home in Brookline to the White House in Washington, D C.
To learn more about the park during your visit, limited touch objects are available inside the historic home. Two audio tours of the historic home, including one narrated by Rose Kennedy, are available to all visitors. To arrange for ASL Interpretation, please contact the park at least 14 days before your visit. A variety of print brochures, including a film transcript, are also available to all.
The park is happy to make accommodations to visitors with accessibility needs. To find out more about what resources might be available, please visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections in this audio-described brochure. You can also visit the park website for more information.
About the Front Side of the Brochure
The front side of the brochure includes a black-and-white cover image of John Fitzgerald Kennedy with others, a timeline covering the years 1914 through 1969 along with eight black-and-white family photos, a brief biography of John F. Kennedy, and a section dedicated to the history of the Kennedys' years in Brookline that includes a black-and-white photo. Two quotes by John F. Kennedy are also on this side of the brochure.
Ten photos are on this side of the brochure. The cover image features John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The timeline's black-and-white photos include John F. Kennedy's parents, two childhood scenes, John F. Kennedy with his brother in their US Navy uniforms, a scene from "Coffee with the Kennedys," John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy at an inaugural ball, and John F. Kennedy at a presidential press conference. In the Brookline years section is a photo of Rose with three of her children.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site is happy to make accommodations to visitors with accessibility needs. Please visit the park website, then call 617-566-7937 before your visit to discuss how your accessibility needs may be accommodated.
Please note that the park is located in a residential area with limited street parking. Be alert for traffic on neighborhood roadways. Use of stairs is necessary to access the basement visitor center and the historic rooms of the birthplace. There is no wheelchair access at this time. Service animals are welcome.
We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For more information about our services, please ask a ranger, call, or check our website.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. Learn about national parks at w w w dot n p s dot g o v.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
83 Beals Street
w w w dot n p s dot g o v forward slash j o f i
Kennedy's Inaugural Address
In the black-and-white cover image, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, shown from the side, delivers his Inaugural Address. It is January 20, 1961. Beside a wide white architectural column, Kennedy stands behind a waist-high podium that has a shiny dark colored wood surface. His left hand leans on the podium while his right arm is raised slightly in front of him. His right hand is in mid-grip as he speaks.
Sunshine lights up the tops of heads and hats throughout the scene. The little bit of sky in the distance, past the Washington D C Capitol area skyline, reveals a light colored sky. Kennedy seems to be squinting, and his mouth is half-open, mid-word, exposing a row of straight white upper teeth. A ghostly white cloud forms just in front of his chin, showing where his warm breath has hit the cold winter air. He is dressed formally in dark shiny shoes, gray slacks with black pinstripes, a black tuxedo jacket with long tails, a light colored vest, a white dress shirt, and a light colored tie that has a darker conservative style pattern. A tiny bit of white fabric, presumably a handkerchief, peeks out of his jacket's left breast pocket. He may be rocking back on his heels, for the toes of his shoes are lifted up off the stage.
Right behind where Kennedy stands on the stage, Jacqueline Kennedy, the new First Lady, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the outgoing president, are seated in the front row, with others who cannot be identified in the photograph. Eisenhower gazes ahead, past Kennedy, while Jacqueline gazes up at Kennedy. Eisenhower slouches with his hands tucked into his coat pockets and his legs crossed at the knee. Jacqueline's shoulders are erect and above the level of Eisenhower's. Her head is angled upward, pointing interestedly toward Kennedy. Eisenhower's hair is thin and bright white in the sunlight. He has bags under his eyes, and his lips are closed together. He is dressed in a heavier black jacket with a white scarf wrapped around his neck all the way up to his ears and tucked down into his coat. He also wears dark gray pants, black socks, and black shoes. A black top hat with a black grosgrain band and rim rests upright on his thigh. Jacqueline is half-hidden by Eisenhower's figure, but we see that she is wearing a lighter colored, heavier-weight coat with one large matching button visible. A dark colored scarf encircles the bottom half of her neck. A pillbox hat matches her coat and rests on the back half of her head. Jacqueline has wide-set eyes and dark arching brows. Her dark hair is parted on the left and sweeps down to the right, ending at points just above her chin.
Beyond them, a standing crowd goes back quite a distance, starting behind a rail on the presidential stage and stretching back two additional heights.
About John Fitzgerald Kennedy
“Let the word go forth from this time and place that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans."
John F. Kennedy
On May 29, 1917, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in the master bedroom of this modest home in Brookline, Massachusetts. The great grandson of Irish immigrants, and the second son of Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, this bright spirited boy was filled with promise.
Kennedy is remembered as the man who led the United States to a New Frontier. The youngest individual and first Catholic elected to the US presidency, he molded a sweeping Civil Rights Bill, launched the Peace Corps, promoted the space race, and negotiated a Nuclear Test Ban treaty during the hottest years of the Cold War. Also memorable were his successes in promoting arts and education, confronting corporate power, and expanding health insurance and public welfare legislation.
As the witty and energetic “media President,” Kennedy inspired the nation with eloquent speeches and endless drive. His wife Jacqueline embodied elegance and verve. Together they captured the heart and imagination of a new generation. When he challenged Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” they responded with enthusiasm and activism.
Behind that public career, behind the romance and mythology of what came to be known as “Camelot,” lay Jack Kennedy the private man. It was no coincidence that this son of a powerful, politically minded father, surrounded by bright and talented siblings, became an ambitious man, with a sense of family loyalty and commitment to public service. Nor was it surprising that his attentive, highly educated mother helped develop his quest for knowledge, an appreciation of history and the arts, and the willingness to accept the consequences of his deeds. Clearly, the character behind Kennedy’s public actions was influenced by his childhood in Brookline.
Though his life ended tragically on November 22, 1963, leaving the man and the vision in midstream, John F. Kennedy left an enduring legacy. “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin. In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”
“I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age.”
John F. Kennedy
The Brookline Years
In 1914, when Rose and Joseph Kennedy moved into their first home at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, they were breaking, and making, tradition. Both members of this newly wedded couple were grandchildren of immigrants and children of politically prominent fathers who had risen through the ranks of Irish Catholic Boston.
While many young couples of their era settled into their parents’ home or a rented apartment, Joseph Kennedy insisted on owning a house in the largely middle class streetcar suburb of Brookline. Mrs. Kennedy explained that her husband “had a strong need for privacy, for independence, for being able to choose the people he wanted to be with in close association.” She herself valued a healthful environment in which to raise her family and recalled “a sense of openness in the neighborhood, with a vacant lot on one side of us and another across the street, and fine big shade trees lining the sidewalks.” Both Kennedys appreciated that the Beals Street home, where they lived from 1914 to 1920, was close to playgrounds, a Catholic church, good schools, Coolidge Corner retail stores, and trolleys to Boston. When they outgrew the Beals Street house, the family moved just two blocks away to Abbottsford Road, where they lived until 1927.
Jack enjoyed many privileges while growing up in Brookline, but he also faced many challenges that helped shape him. From his parents he learned loyalty to family, love of knowledge and reading, pride in his Irish Catholic heritage, and a desire for social acceptance and position. Witnessing the frustrations experienced by Rosemary, his sister with intellectual disabilities, and grappling with his own illnesses, taught him the value of perseverance, determination, and compassion for others. And his older brother Joe, willful, bright, and competitive, challenged Jack to develop, master, and have confidence in his own strengths and talents.
Though he left Brookline on his road to the White House, Kennedy fondly recalled his family’s ties to Massachusetts. “There is within each man a very special affection for the place of his birth,” he wrote. Later he said, “The enduring qualities of Massachusetts are an indelible part of my life, my convictions, my view of the past, and my hopes for the future.”
Rose, Joe Jr., Rosemary, and John
Rosemary wears a light-colored gown with three-quarter length sleeves. Her interested gaze looks off to her left. Her little hands seem ready to reach out and grab something. Rose is holding her under her arms. Rosemary has dark downy hair and a dimpled chin. Her mouth is open, like she may squeal with delight at any moment.
Joe Jr. is the oldest of the three children pictured, but not by much. His dark hair and white collared shirt seem very similar to John's. His expression makes it seem like he is unsure about something.
The Kennedys, 1914 through 1969
1914 World War I begins. Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald marry and move to Brookline Massachusetts.
1917 John Fitzgerald Kennedy born at 83 Beals Street.
1927 The Kennedys move to New York.
1938 Joseph P. Kennedy becomes ambassador to Great Britain.
1939 World War II begins.
1940 John F. Kennedy graduates from Harvard College.
1943 Japanese sink PT109, patrol boat commanded by JFK.
1946 JFK elected to Congress.
1952 JFK elected to Senate.
1953 JFK marries Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.
1957 JFK’s book, Profiles in Courage, awarded Pulitzer Prize.
1960 JFK elected 35th President.
1961 JFK signs bill establishing Peace Corps.
1962 JFK urges US to put an astronaut on the moon.
Cuban Missile Crisis.
1963 JFK proposes sweeping Civil Rights Bill.
JFK signs Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
JFK assassinated in Dallas Texas.
1969 Rose Kennedy dedicates John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.
Family photos (1 through 4)
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1927
In this black-and-white formal portrait with a plain pale background, Rose gazes forward. She is around 37 years old. Her eyes are hooded and turn down at the corners. Her mouth is parted, showing her front teeth, but she is neither smiling nor frowning. Her hair, parted to her right, has been curled into waves that cascade down her temple and over her ear. She is wearing a light colored necklace and a dark-colored collared top.
Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., circa 1914, one of the youngest bank presidents in the United States
Beside Rose's portrait is a black-and-white photo of Joe Sr.. He is about 26 years old. He gazes forward with pale colored eyes. He has a straight thin nose and a jutting chin. His fine hair is cut short and combed over to his right, and his hairline is receding. He is dressed in a dark suit with a white dress shirt and dark patterned tie. Behind him seems to be an office like setting.
Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., and John in 1925
In this black-and-white photo, the two young brothers stand side by side with their arms around each others' shoulders. It is a sunny day, based on the shadows their moptop bangs cast over their eyes and the way Joe Jr. squints. Behind them are younger trees with leaves and a flat yard with cut grass. They are dressed casually in athletic wear. Both have dark pants, white tops, and light colored belts. Joe Jr. is wearing a dark colored tank top over his shirt. John's is light colored. Joe Jr. is around 10 years old. John is around 8.
John Kennedy as a member of the Dexter School football team, 1927. He and his brother Joe were teammates.
John F. Kennedy is around 10 years old and sitting cross legged on cut grass in the front row of a team photo. John's hands are resting on his knees. His pants are worn at the knees, as are the pants of the unidentified boy sitting in a chair in the row behind him. John wears a leather helmet with air holes in the top and ear flaps hanging down. His jersey has a large light colored block style letter D on its left side. John gazes ahead, with no discernible expression, though his mouth is slightly open and exposing some of his teeth.
Family Photos (5 through 8)
John and Joe Jr. in Navy uniforms, Palm Beach, Florida, May 1942.
The brothers pose side by side in this formal black-and-white portrait. John is around 25 years old. Joe Jr. is around 27. Both are dressed in dark colored US Navy uniforms that are decorated with signs of their military ranks. Joe's sleeves near the cuffs, have a single light colored stripe. John's sleeves, also near the cuffs, have two light colored stripes that are separated by a dark stripe. A light colored star is embroidered above his stripes. Both wear white Navy caps with dark visors, a hat band, and a bright insignia in the center above their foreheads, all of which indicate their respective ranks. The brothers are smiling broadly and leaning slightly forward and to their right, with their hands resting casually on their knees or thighs. John's tie hangs straight while the knot of Joe Jr.'s tie is crooked.
"Coffee with the Kennedys," a paid political program during John Kennedy's senate campaign, 1952.
John F. Kennedy stands in front of a light colored wall in this black-and-white photo. Seated in front of him, having tea from a silver "Kennedy" tea service set on a coffee table, are two unidentified women. A dark haired woman in a dark dress stands beside him. They are smiling as they watch an unidentified woman fan out her poodle skirt. Her skirt has John F. Kennedy's signature and other items embroidered on it.
The President and First Lady arrive at an inaugural ball, January 20, 1961.
John F. Kennedy wears a black tuxedo with a bright white cumberbund, shirt, bowtie, and breast pocket handkerchief. Beside him stands Jacqueline Kennedy in a light colored ensemble that includes a long coat buttoned at the collar, a long dress, matching gloves, and a clutch. The couple gazes ahead, and their stances are angled toward their right. Several unidentified people mingle behind them. In this black-and-white photo, John is 44 years old. Jacqueline is 32.
JFK during a press conference, November 20, 1962.
John F. Kennedy stands behind a podium with a microphone on it. He is dressed in a dark business suit with a white dress shirt and a dark patterned tie. The small corner of a white handkerchief sticks out of his breast pocket. He is grinning and pointing his index finger out in front of him. Behind him, an American flag drapes down over its pole. The rest of the background is very dark.
About the Back Side of the BrochureThe back side of the brochure is about visiting the park in Brookline as well as other sites nearby. It features five images, two maps, a neighborhood walking tour, and important information about your visit to the park.
About Your Visit
Gift to the American People
In 1961, the town of Brookline placed a commemorative plaque in front of the house at 83 Beals Streets. In 1964, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark. The following year, Rose Kennedy chose to memorialize her son and his contributions by preserving his birthplace and boyhood home. The Kennedy family repurchased the house and Rose Kennedy enlisted decorator Robert Luddington, of the Jordan Marsh retail store, to recreate the home’s 1917 appearance. Working from her remembrances, Mrs. Kennedy and Luddington assembled furnishings, photographs, and significant mementos for the principal rooms. Rose Kennedy recorded her reminiscences of family life in the house. These evocative recordings are part of the tour.
The Kennedy family donated the house to the National Park Service as a “gift to the American people,” and the site was opened to the public in 1969.
The site is open seasonally, Wednesday through Sunday, mid May to October. Call or visit the park website for hours. Guided tours of the house and neighborhood are free but require tickets, which are available first come, first served from the basement level visitor center.
How to Reach the Site
Take the Green Line, “C," Cleveland Circle, trolley to the Coolidge Corner stop. Walk four blocks north along Harvard Street, turn right on Beals Street, and continue to number 83.
From exit 18 (eastbound) or exit 20 (westbound) on I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike), follow the Allston Brighton exit ramp, merge onto Cambridge Street, and go one mile. At the fourth light, turn left on Harvard Street and proceed about one mile. Turn left on Beals Street and go to number 83. Limited street parking.
About the Maps
The brochure has two maps. One is a detailed park map. The other is an area map called "Getting to Brookline."
The Park Map
The park map is oriented north and has a scale and a legend showing tour stops, and the recommended route for the tour stops. Tour stops are indicated as a white number inside a small circle with a blue background. Solid blue lines on the map show the recommended travel route to reach the tour stops.
The Area Map
The area map is north oriented and has a scale. It shows Red Line and Green Line subway routes and stations, the Charles River, interstates and major roads, and nearby National Park Service and other sites. A legend uses a small white circle with a black border to indicate selected lines and stations along the area's Rapid Transit System, also referred to as the subway or the "T."
Neighborhood Walking Tour
Rose and Joseph Kennedy began their life together in Brookline Massachusetts, where they joined their early hopes and ambitions to the promise of this vibrant and growing community. For 10 years, these neighborhood streets linked the daily life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy to those of neighbors, friends, and schoolmates. Much of the Kennedy era streetscape is preserved. This tour and map will guide you in the footsteps of a young boy whose future course encompassed the world. Most sites are not open to the public. Please be considerate of property and privacy.
MAP. Getting to Brookline
You can get to Brookline by using the interstates and city roads, or the Rapid Transit System.
Using the Interstates (I-93 and I-90)
Interstate 93 is to the east of the park and east of Boston proper. I-93 runs north and south. Just north of Boston, I-93 meets up with Interstate 90, also called the Massachusetts Turnpike.
I-90 runs east and west. It passes the park to the north. You may choose to use the city roads off exits 18 or 20 to reach Brookline and the park from the north. A main Brookline area street mentioned on the map is Beacon Street, which is southwest of I-90 and runs south of the park.
Using the Rapid Transit System
The map shows an overlay of I-93 and I-90, with the Red and Green lines of the Rapid Transit System, also called the subway, or the "T."
Using the Red Line
The Red Line generally runs northwest to southeast, crossing the Charles River, and passing Boston to both the north and the east.
The map shows seven Red Line subway stops. From northwest to southeast, these stops are Harvard Square, Kendall MIT, an unidentified stop, Park Street, Downtown Crossing, Broadway, and JFK-UMass. The Red Line splits in two after this stop.
Using the Green Line
The Green Line generally runs east and west, although it also curves north past Boston, then back northwest across the Charles River. The Green Line passes Boston to the north. As it reaches the eastern side of Brookline, the Green Line splits three ways, into Line B, Line C, and Line D.
Use Line C to reach the park.
The map shows nine Green Line subway stops. The Green Line snakes, from the north eastward, then southward, then westward toward Brookline. Seven stops occur before the split at Brookline. These seven stops are Lechmere, which is north of the Charles River, then Science Park, North Station, Government Center, Park Street, Hynes Center ICA, and Kenmore.
Past Kenmore, the Green Line splits. Line B continues west, passing north of the park. Line C follows Beacon Street, and takes you to an eighth subway stop, Coolidge Corner. Finally, Line D continues further south and west. The map shows a ninth stop off Line D, at Brookline Hills.
Coolidge Corner is the subway stop nearest to the park. To reach the park from the south, using public transit, take the Red Line, C, and get off at the Coolidge Corner stop.
Points of Interest
The Brookline map shows six points of interest, not far from the park. Starting at 12 o'clock on the map and going clockwise, the sites are Boston African American National Historic Site, the Boston National Historical Park visitor center, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, and Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site.
To Reach Points of Interest by Interstate
I-93 is the nearest interstate to three sites. These sites are Boston African American National Historic Site, the Boston National Historical Park visitor center, and the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.
I-90 is the nearest interstate to two sites. These sites are John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site and, further south, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
To Reach Points of Interest by Rapid Transit
The Red Line
Along the Red Line are four points of interest. They are, north to south, Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site, Boston African American National Historic Site, the Boston National Historical Park visitor center, and the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.
The northernmost point of interest along the Red Line, near the Harvard Square stop, is Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site. Next, near the Park Street stop is Boston African American National Historic Site. Then, northeast of the Park Street and Downtown Crossing stops, is the Boston National Historical Park visitor center. The Red Line then crosses I-93 at its Downtown Crossing and JFK-UMass stops. The southernmost point of interest is the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, to the southeast of the JFK-UMass stop.
The Green Line
Along the Green Line are four points of interest. They are, north to south, Boston African American National Historic Site, the Boston National Historical Park visitor center, John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, and Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
To reach John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, take Green Line, C, to the Coolidge Corner stop.
The northernmost point of interest along the Green Line is Boston African American National Historic Site, which is southwest of three Green Line stops. These three stops are Science Park, North Station, and Government Center. The easternmost point of interest is the Boston National Historical Park visitor center, which is east of the Government Center and Park Street stops. The Green Line then continues along the Charles River, to the north, and I-90, the Massachusetts Turnpike, to the south. The Green Line eventually crosses I-90, at the Kenmore stop.
At the Kenmore stop, the Green Line branches out into lines B, C, and D.
Line B passes John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, to the north. Line C follows Beacon Street and takes you to John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, via the Coolidge Corner stop. Line D heads south past John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, toward Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, via the Brookline Hills stop.
MAP. Getting to the Visitor Center
The park visitor center is on Beals Street, just northwest of the center of the map, and is located on the map at about 11 o'clock.
The only two roads that connect to Beals Street are Harvard Street to the south and Gibbs Street to the north. Beals Street ends at both of these streets.
To reach the visitor center from the south, via Harvard Street, one option is to take Beacon Street to Harvard Street, heading northwest, then turn right, northeast, onto Beals Street. The visitor center is on the right, southeast, side. If you reach Gibbs Street, you have passed the visitor center.
Another option to reach the visitor center from the south is via the subway Green Line. Here, the Green Line traces the path of Beacon Street. Exit the Green Line at Coolidge Corner Station. Head northwest along Harvard Street, then turn right, northeast, onto Beals Street. The visitor center is on the right, southeast, side. If you reach Gibbs Street, you have passed the visitor center.
To reach the visitor center from the north, via Gibbs Street, you would take either Naples Road or Stedman Street to Gibbs Street, then turn southwest onto Beals Street. Heading southwest on Beals Street, the visitor center is on your left, southeast, side. If you reach Harvard Street, you have passed the visitor center.
An Overview of the Tour Stop Locations
The six tour stops are located a mile or less from the park visitor center. Starting at the visitor center, and working clockwise on the map, will help you navigate the circuit of tour stops located throughout this area of the city.
Tour stop 1 is the John F. Kennedy National Historic Site, at 83 Beals Street.
Tour stop 2 is another Kennedy home, at 51 Abbottsford Road.
Tour stop 3 is Saint Aidan's Roman Catholic Church, at 207 Freeman Street.
Tour stop 4 is the former site of Noble and Greenough Lower School, later Dexter School, at 175 Freeman Street.
Tour stop 5 is Coolidge Corner, located at the corner of Beacon and Harvard streets.
Tour stop 6 is Edward Devotion School, at 347 Harvard Street.
Tour Stop Directions
Start your tour stop route at tour stop 1, the park visitor center, at 83 Beals Street in Brookline. The tour route loops you around from the park visitor center, to each of the sites, then back to the park visitor center.
How to Reach Tour Stop 2 from the Park Visitor Center
From the visitor center entrance, go northeast on Beals Street toward Gibbs Street. Turn left, northwest, onto Gibbs Street. Then turn right, northeast, onto Naples Road. Finally, turn right, southeast, onto Abbottsford Road. Tour stop 2 is another Kennedy home at 51 Abbottsford Road, at the corner of Naples Road and Abbottsford Road. The site is on the left side of the street. If you reach Babcock Street, you have passed tour stop 2.
How to Reach Tour Stop 3 from Tour Stop 2
From tour stop 2, continue southeast on Abbottsford Road. Turn right, southeast, onto Babcock Street. Then turn left, east, onto Freeman Street. Tour stop 3 is Saint Aidan's Roman Catholic Church, at 207 Freeman Street. The church is on your left, on the north side of Freeman Street. It is located just past Browne Street, before Pleasant Street.
How to Reach Tour Stop 4 from Tour Stop 3
From tour stop 3, continue east a short distance on Freeman Street. Tour stop 4 is the former site of Noble and Greenough Lower School, later Dexter School, at 175 Freeman Street. This site is on the north side of Freeman Street. It is located past Pleasant Street, before Still Street.
How to Reach Tour Stop 5 from Tour Stop 4
From tour stop 4, turn around, and head west on Freeman Street. Next, turn left, southwest, onto Babcock Street. Then turn right, southeast, onto Harvard Street, until you reach Beacon Street. Tour stop 5 is Coolidge Corner, which is located at the corner of Beacon and Harvard streets.
How to Reach Tour Stop 6 from Tour Stop 5
From tour stop 5, turn around, and head northwest along Harvard Street. Tour stop 6 is Edward Devotion School, at 347 Harvard Street. It is located between Babcock and Stedman streets. The site is on the north side of Harvard Street.
How to Reach the Park Visitor Center from Tour Stop 6
To return to the park visitor center, continue northwest along Harvard Street, until you reach Beals Street. Turn right, northeast, onto Beals Street. The visitor center is on your right, at 83 Beals Street. If you reach Gibbs Street, you have passed the visitor center.
Visiting Brookline. Images (1 through 3)
“We were very happy here, and although we did not know about the days ahead, we were enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.”
Rose Kennedy, 1969
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
On a shaded suburban street stands a pale blue two-story house, with white porch railings and dark blue shutters. This was John F. Kennedy's childhood home, and today it is home to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.
In front of the house are a lamppost, a concrete sidewalk, a line of green low lying shrubs that have been recently trimmed, and a strip of green grass for the front yard. A breezeless American flag, on a short silver pole, with a finial at the top, hangs limply in front of the porch. Taller green bushes fill the rest of the small front yard, up to the columned porch.
Sunlight shines through the overhanging tree branches and green leaves, lighting up parts of the home's exterior. The house is covered in horizontal siding. It is three windows across, and two windows high, except for a third dormer window on the left side, that is nestled into a dark colored roof. White steps lead to the covered porch and the front door.
Above the porch is a balcony, with white railings, that extends along the width of the porch below. The balcony rises only a couple feet higher than the porch roof.
Two gutters run down both sides of the front of the house, near its corners. The house then extends two windows deep, into a very small backyard that is bordered by a light brown, wooden privacy fence. Another concrete sidewalk runs along the right side of the house, separated only by an overhang of bushes, and another small strip of cut grass. Fallen leaves bunch up where the bushes meet the ground.
A memorial plaque stands to the right of the flag. A large park sign between the plaque and the front porch steps, greets visitors. Another park sign is beside the front door, across from an inviting wooden seat on the porch. To the left of the home, a dark brown house seems to crowd into the picture.
Rose Kennedy at the dedication of the national historic site in 1969.
The angle of this black-and-white photo looks up at Rose Kennedy, past a crowd of fans behind her, and up toward the second-story balcony railing of the one time Kennedy home.
Rose is around age 79. She stands at ground level, wearing a darker colored dress, with a pleated skirt and thin belt. A large round white hat rests on the back of her head. The sunlight shines on her, from overhead and behind. In her white gloved right hand, she is holding a large flat rectangular object.
Several fans reach for her, some holding onto her left arm and hand. However, she is looking in the opposite direction of where they are. A large bush and chain link fence separate her from them.
Her mouth is closed, her neck is taut, and her dark hair is curled forward around her ears and cheeks.
John and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., at the Beals Street Home, 1919.
Brothers Joe Jr., age 4, and John, age 2, are pictured in matching outfits, in this black-and-white photo.
The boys are dressed in tall black hats with wide brims that shade their eyes on this sunny day. White ruffled collars pop out of the tops of their medium colored trench coats, which are buttoned up and belted at the waist. They are wearing dark trousers and dark boots. They hold hands as they stand side by side on a flat grassy area.
Behind them are their lengthening shadows, a straight path, an overgrown grassy slope, leafless trees, and man-made constructions, including close together buildings with varying rooflines and windows.
Tour Stop 1. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, 83 Beals Street
Following their wedding in 1914, Rose and Joseph Kennedy made their first home in this modest five-year-old Colonial Revival house. At that time, it was the last house on the lovely sycamore-lined street. “Here,” Mrs. Kennedy later remembered, “we had light and air.”
Four of their nine children were born while the Kennedys lived here, Joseph Jr., John called “Jack,” Rosemary, and Kathleen.
Like many Boston women of that era, Mrs. Kennedy preferred to deliver her children at home. In 1917 Jack was born in his parents’ second floor bedroom, “in the bed nearest the window, so the doctor would have proper light.”
Here the Kennedy children enjoyed family sing-alongs at the parlor piano, instructive discussions in the dining room, and nighttime book readings.
This color image of the nursery at the Beals Street home shows furnishings, including a white baby carriage on wheels, a white rocking chair, a white dresser, and a white children's gown and bonnet outfit that has been hung on a white stand.
A multi-colored carpet is on the floor, a white wooden door is behind the stroller, and a radiator and pipes are on the far wall of the room.
About two-thirds of the walls have a light yellow wallpaper with a faint pattern on it. A darker wavy border separates it from the top wallpaper, which features colorful figures parading throughout.
Tour Stop 2. 51 Abbottsford Road, Corner of Abbottsford and Naples
In 1920, the growing Kennedy family moved to a more spacious home on Abbottsford Road, where they lived until 1927. It reflected Joseph Sr.’s successes as one of the nation’s youngest bank presidents, a shrewd investor in the stock market, and a pioneering producer in the motion picture industry.
From the large wraparound porch, the Kennedy clan, which expanded to include Eunice, Patricia, and Robert, greeted friends, neighbors, and delivery people passing by.
Tour Stop 3. Saint Aidan’s Roman Catholic Church, 207 Freeman Street
“On pleasant days, I took the children for walks,” Rose Kennedy recalled. “I wheeled one in a carriage, and two or three toddled along with me. I made it a point each day to take them to church.”
The church that Mrs. Kennedy and her children visited daily, and the place the family worshipped each Sunday, was Saint Aidan’s, built in 1911 by the well known Maginnis and Walsh architectural firm.
Jack was baptized and served as altar boy here. A parishioner remembered him as a delightfully irreverent child who would “roller skate up to the chapel door as fast as he could go, tear the skates off, run in, go to confession, come out, put the skates on, and off he’d go.”
Saint Aidan's Roman Catholic Church
In this color photo, a clear blue sky and green leafy trees and shrubs frame a broad stone church building, that rises in height from left to right. A large central structure stands tall between two smaller additions.
On the left, shallow concrete steps lead from the street and sidewalk, up to a covered double-door entryway. The roofline here angles upward to a central roof.
The central part of the building is around three stories tall. Its lowest level features a small enclosed entryway, some narrow windows, and a stone facade that rises up, then changes over to a gigantic focal point above.
The focal point is a large Gothic arched window that dominates the center of the exterior wall, right above the triangle roofed entryway. Around this window, the building changes from the stone facade to a Tudor style facade, which consists of white washed walls, separated by brown vertical beams.
At the front part of its ridge,the soaring central roofline has a pole that hoists a cross. The cross seems weathered by time.
To the right of the central structure is a tower, once again featuring a stone facade at its lowest level. Above, a Tudor style facade rises two stories. The most sharply rising roof of the three peaks here. It is twice as high as the roof on the central structure. At the very top of the tower is another smaller cross.
Tour Stop 4. Former Site of Noble and Greenough Lower School, Later Dexter School, 175 Freeman Street
Joseph Kennedy wanted his sons to associate with prominent families, so he enrolled Joe Jr. and Jack in Noble and Greenough Lower School in 1924. The boys were the only Irish Catholics at this private school that prepared students for eminent colleges. The school soon merged with Dexter School.
Joe Jr. excelled in academics. Though Jack did well in history and English, his strengths were sports and leadership. By age nine, he was quarterback and captain of the Dexter football team, on which Joe also played.
When they were hassled for being Irish or Catholic, Joe often responded with fists while Jack stayed on the sidelines, quietly betting marbles that his brother would win the fight.
Tour Stop 5. Coolidge Corner, Corner of Beacon and Harvard
Coolidge Corner was a retail hub of Brookline and a frequent destination of the Kennedy family. With “one child in his kiddy car, and one or two others on each side,” Rose Kennedy would sally forth to shop at the Five and Dime, the bank, or the 1898 SS Pierce building.
Here, the Beacon Street rail and electric trolley lines connected this streetcar suburb to downtown Boston, where much of the Kennedys’ social, cultural, and political life was centered.
Tour Stop 6. Edward Devotion School, 347 Harvard Street
Jack attended the Edward Devotion School through the third grade. The school, named for an early benefactor of Brookline’s public schools, was known for academic excellence.
Jack was an acknowledged daydreamer. At age six, he ran home to warn his mother that his teacher was coming to discuss his idleness. Jack’s defense was, “You know, I’m getting on all right, and if you study too much, you’re liable to go crazy.”
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
Continue exploring President Kennedy’s life, leadership, and legacy, at this presidential archive, at Columbia Point in Boston. For more information, call toll free, 8 6 6 JFK 1960, 866-535-1960, or go to www dot JFK library dot o r g.