The Kennedy Family's Second Home

Black and white photograph of three story house with large porch, rounded windows, and dormers
The Kennedy family's second home in Brookline, at the corner of Naples Street & Abbottsford Road.

Kennedy Family Collection, (c) John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Quick Facts
51 Abbottsford Road, Brookline, MA
Childhood home of President John F. Kennedy
Graffam Development Historic District
Private Residence

In 1920, the Kennedy family outgrew their first home at 83 Beals Street in Brookline. When they moved, Mrs. Kennedy was expecting her fifth child, Eunice, and they later had Patricia and Robert in this home. The couple wanted to stay in Brookline, as it was a developing neighborhood, in walking distance to the nearby Catholic Church, and allowed Mr. Kennedy a short commute to work. They could now afford this home because of Mr. Kennedy’s continued success at work, and wise investments. He was one of the country’s youngest bank presidents, an investor, and a leader in the motion picture producing industry. The home symbolized the family’s growth.

Mrs. Kennedy admired the porch that still wraps around the front of the home today. The new outdoor play space gave the children the welcomed opportunity to play together outside. On this porch, Mrs. Kennedy could supervise all of her children at once, and as they became boisterous, she remembered sometimes dividing the porch so each child could have his or her own space to play. Imagine four or five children, partitioned off on the porch, playing happily as Mrs. Kennedy sat in the center, talking with the passerby and playing with the children. She took full advantage of the neighborhood, as when the mailmen, ice deliverers, milkmen, and neighbors stopped by, Mrs. Kennedy asked her children to practice their manners, and greet them politely. As the children grew older, Mrs. Kennedy placed a bulletin board near the dining room, and pinned current events newspaper clippings, and magazine articles to it. She would expect that her children would read them throughout the day, and be ready to discuss their opinions at dinnertime, encouraging them to articulate their thoughts and argue their perspectives. The family lived in this home until 1927, when Mr. Kennedy decided to move them to New York, claiming that Boston was no place to raise an Irish family.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

Last updated: October 14, 2022