Born to Run

The humble house where a political dynasty began

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ven when you know where to look, it’s hard to distinguish the house where John F. Kennedy was born from the other colonial revival-style houses on the block. Joseph P. Kennedy bought his in 1914, when he was two years out of Harvard because he wanted to ride the trolley with the bluebloods. The master bedroom on the second floor would be President John F. Kennedy’s birthplace, where he came into the world May 29, 1917. “We were very happy here,” Rose Kennedy, who died in 1995, reminisces on a recording eerily used to narrate guided tours, “and although we did not know about the days ahead, we were enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.” In fact, all four Kennedy children born in this house met tragic fates: JFK, who was assassinated; Joseph P. Jr. and Kathleen, both killed in airplane crashes during World War II; and Rosemary, who was lobotomized. In 1921, the growing family moved to a bigger house nearby at 51 Abbottsford Road. The future president was baptized and served as an altar boy at St. Aidan’s Catholic Church on Freeman Street and attended the Noble and Greenough lower school next door, now the site of a high-rise apartment complex, and the Edward Devotion School on Harvard Street.

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Joseph and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedys’ graves are also in Brookline, in Holyhood Cemetery near Route 9 at Walnut Avenue and Amarillo Road.

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