JFK's summer house in foreclosure auction

March 06, 1992|By Boston Globe

BARNSTABLE, Mass. -- A small piece of "Camelot" is up for sale.

The Hyannis Port home used by John F. Kennedy as the "Summer White House" in 1962 is set to go on the block at a foreclosure auction later this month.

The Kennedy family never owned the rambling, 12-room home, but borrowed it that summer from a family friend, Morton Downey, the well-known Irish tenor and father of the former talk-show host.

The house, which sits high on 10 acres with sweeping views of Nantucket Sound, has been sold several times since then. It is now owned by James B. and Madeline M. Tatum of Los Angeles, who bought it in July 1986 for $1.7 million. Quincy Savings Bank is foreclosing for nonpayment.

But in the summer of '62, the Downey house was home to the president of the United States and all the pomp and power that go with the office. During those brief months, it was there that Kennedy ate dinners with his brothers, Ted and Bobby; played games on the sloping lawns with his children, Caroline and John; and took his wife, Jackie, to picnics at sea on his yacht, the "Honey Fitz."

David F. Powers, who was Kennedy's special assistant and is now curator at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, recalled that the president spent as much time as possible at sea.

The Downey house was used by the Kennedy family because it was more private than the Kennedy compound, located about a half-mile away, which had been used by the family the previous summer. The compound would often draw large crowds.

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