It’s one of the greatest tourist attractions in Cape Cod—even if you can’t go to it directly. It crops up in international news stories, and it’s probably worth more than all the places you’ve lived in combined. It’s a pride of Hyannis, Massachusetts. It’s a piece of our national history. It’s the Kennedy Compound.
What Is it?
The Kennedy Compound was President Kennedy’s home away from home. It started as a summer cottage rented by Joseph P. Kennedy in 1926, and was gradually added on to. Living there, John F. Kennedy campaigned for the presidency in 1960, and used it as a presidential retreat until his tragic assassination in 1963. The house passed from him to his family. The last owner of the house was Senator Ted Kennedy, who died there in 2009. It was passed to his wife, Vicki Kennedy, who donated it to a non-profit institute.
Geographically, it could be hard to imagine finer property. The Compound is comprised of three houses on a total of six acres, right along the shore of the Nantucket Sound. It boasts Cape Cod’s fantastic summers, and is isolated enough from neighbors to have given the famous Americans total privacy. The main house enjoys fantastic views of the ocean from its long porches.
Why Is It Famous?
First, the main house itself is quite impressive. The beautiful lawns and spacious gardens remain well kept. While there are all of the amenities one could want, from a lovely dining room to an inviting sun room, the upstairs features a staggering six bedrooms, not including the four servants’ bedrooms. The basement has its own movie theater and wine cellar.
Secondly, few houses have homed so many influential Americans. J.F.K. remains in the history books not just as another name and date, but as an influential figure who helped affirm the United States’ dedication to space exploration and skillfully defused the Cuban Missile Crisis. His brother Robert served in his cabinet, and both of his brothers were U.S. senators.
With such a distinguished pedigree and a lovely estate, the Kennedy Compound perhaps remains noteworthy because of the public’s fascination with “old money”—a term which has described few people in America.
Can You Tour It?
Despite its registry in the U.S. Register of Historic Places, the Kennedy Compound is closed to the public, and difficult to see from inland. The only way to catch a glimpse of the estate is via a Hyannis Harbor Cruise.
If you want to learn more about the Kennedys though, you can also check out Hyannis’ JFK Museum and Kennedy Legacy Trail.