About the Institute
January 30, 2012
Historic Kennedy Home in Hyannis Port Gifted to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S Senate
(BOSTON, Massachusetts) — The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (“EMK Institute”) announced today that ownership of the Kennedy family’s property at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port has been gifted to the EMK Institute, in keeping with the wishes of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his widow Victoria R. Kennedy. This generous gift fulfills a promise made by Senator Kennedy to his mother Rose that the home be preserved for charitable use. This property was the backdrop to some of the most memorable events in Kennedy history and a team of experts in national historic preservation will be assembled, led by a renowned presidential historian, to provide guidance on programming and operations of the home.
“From our earliest discussions about the EMK Institute, Teddy and I dreamed of a place that would encourage public engagement and inspire political leadership in future generations. The acceptance of the gift of this historic home in Hyannis Port is a significant step forward in fulfilling that mission,” said Vicki Kennedy. “This special home and the family of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy were at the center of many memorable events in the history of our country. It was at this home that the family learned the lesson that shaped their lives, which is that each of us can make a difference and all of us should try. In making this gift to the EMK Institute, Teddy and I hoped this American landmark would remain a dynamic place that reflected the contributions and commitment to this great nation displayed by the extended Kennedy family. We hoped it would help inspire future generations of Americans to be involved and make a difference as well.”
“This house was my family’s epicenter, where my grandparents, father, uncles and aunts would retreat to connect with one another through heated political debates in the dining room and rousing games on the front lawn. Over the generations, we have returned to Hyannis Port in times of both happiness and pain. We have come to celebrate baptisms and marriages, await election results, and grieve the passing of our relatives,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr. “Even though my family still considers Hyannis Port to be our home, we recognize that this house is a unique and historic place that should be preserved so that future students of history and politics will better understand how this house helped to develop, define and sustain my family.”
Preservation of Historic Home
Recognizing the special history and importance of the home, the EMK Institute will assemble a team of experts in historic preservation who will offer recommendations on usage, programming and public visitations. Renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss has agreed to serve the Institute as an advisor and will help evaluate the recommendations of the advisory team. Beschloss has authored eight books on presidential history, is a regular contributor to PBS NewsHour and NBC News, and is a trustee of the White House Historical Association and the National Archives Foundation.
“This world-famous house is a national treasure, the setting in which this great American political family made history, year after year, for nearly a century. Like Hyde Park for the Roosevelts or Quincy for the Adamses, if you want to really understand Joseph and Rose Kennedy, President Kennedy and his brothers and sisters, and their families, you will have to go to Hyannis Port,” said Beschloss. “The gift of the house to the EMK Institute is an exceptional act of generosity by the Kennedy family, which will have an impact on generations of visitors.”
The house at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port is the backdrop to many famous Kennedy moments captured by film and photo. This is where the Kennedy children learned to swim and sail, and where the traditional touch football games were played. It is the place where countless political discussions were held and major political decisions made. President Kennedy hosted meetings with dignitaries and administration officials at this historic home. This home was central to a remarkable family which produced three United States Senators, one who went on to become President, and influential daughters who have impacted American society through the Special Olympics and Very Special Arts. The extended Kennedy family continues to make a positive impact on a range of issues through other nonprofit organizations such as the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
“When I think about my childhood, it’s the summers at the Cape that come to mind most frequently,” said Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. “My parents created a very loving and exciting environment for our entire family here. Through their guidance and enthusiasm we developed our deep interest in American history and a very real desire to give back to our country in some capacity what we had received. It is a great tribute to my parents that it will now permanently be a place where thoughts and ideas are exchanged, and new generations of leaders can come for inspiration and guidance.”
EMK Institute Plans
The EMK Institute (http://emkinstitute.org/) hopes to use the home to support and enhance its mission of educating the public about the U.S. government, invigorating public discourse, emphasizing the importance of bipartisanship, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the public square. Specifically, it is expected that the main house will host selected educational seminars and forums organized by the EMK Institute. In addition, it is expected that the property will also host programs on behalf of other institutions.
The EMK Institute also recognizes the desire that exists on the part of the general public to visit this historic site. They will work with the panel of national historic preservation experts, area neighbors and Town of Barnstable officials over time to create an appropriate schedule of public visitations to the house. Chairman of the Board of the EMK Institute Lee Fentress emphasized, “The Institute is committed to ensure that the residential character of the property is preserved and the privacy of the surrounding neighborhood is respected.”
In giving this gift, Vicki Kennedy has given away her rights to the property. In addition to receiving title to the property, a $3.2 million donation from the Committee to Re-Elect Edward M. Kennedy campaign fund has been made to the EMK Institute in order to fund maintenance and operational costs associated with the house. No federal funds will be used to support property upkeep or operations.
“Senator Kennedy’s life was rooted in public service, enriched by his love of history and fueled by his commitment to enhance civic engagement,” stated Fentress. “It is not at all surprising, then, that he and Vicki Kennedy together planned for their home in Hyannis Port to serve to pass on the Senator’s legacy of giving back and inspiring leadership. We are extremely grateful to the Kennedy family for this generous gift and entrusting this cherished and historic home to the Institute’s care.”
“My father had great passion for the United States Senate. It was his life for many years. There could be no greater testament to his legacy than allowing the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate to turn this home into a place of learning,” said Congressman Patrick Kennedy. “My aunts and uncles all felt a special connection to this home and the surrounding area. I hope visitors will be inspired by the contributions they made to our country and will in turn make their own unique contribution to society.”
Kennedy Family Usage of Property
The Kennedy family will have limited usage of the property going forward. There are longstanding easements on the property, granting beach access to Kennedy family members who own adjacent properties, which will remain in effect as part of the deed transfer. It is also expected that the Institute will enter into a rental agreement allowing Kennedy family members limited access to the grounds for recreational purposes.
- Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy purchased the property at 50 Marchant Street on October 31, 1928.
- The home was originally a 15-room white clapboard house on about two and a half acres, with a lawn running down to Nantucket Sound.
- The home today sits on 1.93 acres and is 9,055 square feet.*
For a more complete history and photos of the historic home, visit http://emkinstitute.org/.
About the EMK Institute for the United States Senate
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (the EMK Institute) is dedicated to educating the public about our government, emphasizing the importance of bipartisanship, invigorating public discourse, encouraging participatory democracy, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the public square. Through innovative, participatory educational programs, the EMK Institute will engage the public in political debate by bringing them inside the legislative process. The EMK Institute will feature and celebrate the legislative career of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and use the progress of the issues he cared the most about to focus attention on how the Senate shapes public policy and the nation. The Institute will also heighten awareness of the Senate’s role and broaden public access to the papers of all Senators through an extensive digital library, available on-site and on-line. Envisioned as a new 40,000-square foot facility, the EMK Institute, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass), will be located on the campus of UMass Boston and adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
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