• Dining Room

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Object of the Month

A cut ruby glass decanter and cocktail glass from the late 19th or early 20th century.

This cut ruby glass decanter and matching cocktail glass are displayed in the dining room on a serving table. Believed to have originally belonged to Rose Kennedy's mother, Mary Josephine Hannon, it is unknown if they were actually part of the house's furnishings during the Kennedy family's residency. It is interesting that Rose Kennedy chose these pieces with which to decorate the Beals Street house. In a 1967 interview given to the National Park Service she discussed entertaining and alcohol consumption at the house, reporting:

And there weren't many cocktails much in those days. Occasionally, but I don't think I ever had a cocktail in this house. I mean I [sic] personally. I don't think.

Also, while composing notes for her audio tour of the house, which can still be heard by visitors today, Mrs. Kennedy recalled the following:

We didn't do much formal entertaining here. We preferred to have informal dinners with a few friends. Cocktail parties were not customary in those days. A little wine or champagne was served at weddings and christenings.

Mrs. Kennedy's recollections are quite likely accurate, as many sources peg the first actual "cocktail party" as being held by a Mrs. Julius S. Walsh, Jr. in 1917 at her home in St. Louis. Such events quickly became popular occasions in the U.S., at least until Prohibition was enacted in 1920. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. may have enjoyed a drink at home while living on Beals Street, but Mrs. Kennedy said little about such matters.

 

Did You Know?