Here's What Happened To The Home John F. Kennedy Was Born In

Future president John F. Kennedy was born in a bedroom on the second floor of the home Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and her husband Joseph Kennedy had purchased three years earlier, per the National Park Service. The home, located at 83 Beals Street, was in a middle-class neighborhood of Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston that was on the trolley car line. Joseph Kennedy borrowed $2,000 for the downpayment on the three-story house and took out a $4,500 mortgage to cover the rest, according to "JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who would become the 35th U.S. president, lived in the house from his birth on May 29, 1917, until 1920. In a solemn ceremony 52 years to the day of his birth in 1969, Rose Kennedy donated the home to the people of the United States. "Jack derived his sense of history and literature here," Rose Kennedy remarked during the dedication ceremony, per The Boston Globe. Since that time, the National Historic Site has been open to the public.

A great hello

While Brookline had traditionally been a wealthy enclave, the house where John F. Kennedy was born was built in 1909 during a building boom of middle-class housing, per National Park Service. "We chose this house because many of our friends lived near here," Rose Kennedy recounted (via The Boston Globe). "The environment was much more suburban then." Rose and Joseph Kennedy, who both came from up-and-coming Irish political families, moved into the house following their honeymoon. At the time, it was common for young married couples to live with their parents or rent. But Joseph "had a strong need for privacy, for independence, for being able to choose the people he wanted to be with in close association," Rose recalled (via National Park Service History).

The home was well suited for the young couple with five bedrooms spread across the two top floors and a large kitchen and front porch. Rose Kennedy recalled Jack and his siblings would "stand on the porch and deliver a great hello to passersby ” (via The Boston Globe). Their eldest son, Joe Jr., was born in Hull, Massachusetts in 1915, while the Kennedys were on vacation. Besides John, two of their daughters, Rose Marie and Kathleen, were also born in the house. But they soon outgrew the residence and moved to a larger home a few blocks away.

From private home to public shrine

In 1965, less than two years after Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy, the National Park Service designated the home a National Historic Landmark. Rose Kennedy repurchased the property in 1966 and oversaw its restoration, per "Historic Homes of the American Presidents." She returned the house to the way it looked at the time of her son John's birth, including bringing in many of the family's possessions, from JFK's bassinet to her piano.

Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, who had been an early supporter of John F. Kennedy, championed making the home a National Historic Site. As reported by the Associated Press, he told Congress in 1967 that Rose Kennedy was "anxious to donate this property to the United States for administration as a National Historic Site." Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed the bill passed by Congress later that year. "Although we did not know about the days ahead, we were enthusiastic and optimistic about the future," Rose Kennedy recalled in 1969 (via UPI).