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Joe and Rose Kennedy's Estate




By Steve Brawley

Known as the Kennedy Winter White House, the Kennedy's often found relaxation at the Palm Beach Florida home of JFK's parents. But they also rented a nearby house owned by C. Michael Paul. This was Rose's domain, so Jackie needed a place of her own to get away.

Jackie spent time here at her in-laws as did her husband. The famous January 1961 family pictures by Richard Avedon and the Easter 1962 pictures of JFK and his family were taken at this house and were distributed across the world.

Story below by Alice Luckhardt (Yahoo Contributor Network) June 20, 2010:

One of the most famous estates in Florida and throughout the country was known as the 'Winter White House' for President John F. Kennedy.

Just 65 miles north of Miami, Florida, along millionaire's row on the

the plush island of Palm Beach is located one of America's most famous addresses. The Kennedy estate, as it was known, is situation along the Atlantic Ocean at 1095 North Ocean Blvd. However, it was not always owned by the Kennedy family.

This home was originally designed by the famous architect, Addison Mizner. In the 1920s, Mizner was the best-known and desired American architect, especially in tropical areas like Florida and California. His style was that of Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival.

The Mediterranean Revival designs were favored by wealthy northern clients, who wanted their own individual ocean-front mansions. The elegant homes were constructed of stone, tile and stucco, with open ventilation to take advantage of the sea breezes. Many had walls around the estates and those were made from lava rock.

It was Rodman Wanamaker, of Philadelphia, PA, a department store tycoon, who had Mizner build his Florida mansion at the northern end on Palm Beach. Wanamaker had his winter home built in 1923 in the Spanish Revival style. It was named 'La Guerida', which means bounty of war. Rodman Wanamaker also had a townhouse on Spruce Street in Philadelphia, a New York residence near Washington Square, a house in and a country home near Jenkintown, Pa.

Due to serious kidney problems, Wanamaker was only able to enjoy his Palm Beach mansion until his death in 1928 in Atlantic City. His family held onto the estate for a few years, but with the economic conditions brought on by the Great Depression, they sold the two-acre property and home in 1933 to Joseph P. Kennedy for $120,000. That was same year Addison Mizner died.

Joe Kennedy has been encouraged by his wife, Rose, to purchase a home on Palm Beach, which was one of her favorite locations to vacation. Joe added an additional wing to the house which was designed by Maurice Fatio.


Also put in was a and tennis court for his large family to enjoy. Rose and Joe Kennedy's children spent a great deal of time growing up there, especially during the winter season of December to April. Even a special 'bullpen' was constructed for Joe Kennedy's use. It was a walled off area where he sunbathed and could also be on the telephone to conduct business.

From North Ocean Blvd., looking towards the home, there is very little to see, just an archway with a heavy oak door against a large white wall (where the 1962 Easter pictures were taken). It is 100 feet long and 2-stories with six bedrooms. There was no air-conditioning or central heat in the house, either when Wanamaker or the Kennedys owned it. With 176 feet directly on the ocean and most of the time plentiful sea breezes, the house was comfortable.

Senator wrote his book, Profiles of Courage, at the Palm Beach residence between 1954 and 1955 while recovering from back surgery. With the ocean right there, during certain times the rough ocean waves pounded the seawall spraying seawater everywhere. However, John found it a very relaxing time.

The Palm Beach house was used for vacations, at holiday time and a great place for family get-togethers and of course the family football games. The Kennedy house was not always kept up over the years. There were signs of faded and shabby slipcovers. The family always felt the house was for fun and to relax in, not to be impressive.

It was November 1960 that Joe and Rose Kennedy watched the 1960 Presidential election returns from their Palm Beach residence. Once John Kennedy won, he spent several weeks in Palm Beach to relax after the campaign and to prepare for his presidency.

While at 1096 North Ocean Blvd., John "Jack" Kennedy selected most of his cabinet members and then held press conferences on the patio. He used a good deal of his time in Palm Beach, especially in January 1961, to work on his inaugural address. Jack and Jackie's bedroom was on the first floor with a balcony overlooking the tennis court. Over the next 35 months, the ocean residence would become known as Kennedy's winter White House - even though they stayed at the Paul Mansion nearby.

It was also where on December 19, 1961, that Joseph Kennedy had his massive stroke.

President Kennedy spent his last few days before the Dallas, Texas events of November 22, 1963 in Palm Beach.


He flew in on Friday, November 15, 1963 to stay at the Palm Beach home. Then went to Cape Canaveral on November 16th. The next day, November 17th Kennedy was back in Palm Beach finishing his speech for his visit in Miami. During that time he had a private screening of the new movie, Tom Jones.

On Monday, November 18, 1963, Kennedy left Palm Beach for speeches he was giving in Tampa and Miami. He then left Florida and headed back to Washington, D. C. and remained there November 19th and 20th. On November 21st and 22nd John and Jackie Kennedy were in Texas. John would never be back to Palm Beach and the family house on North Ocean Blvd.

The Kennedy residence remained a vacation get-away for the various family branches over the following years. The house gained notoriety during William Kennedy Smith rape trial held in Palm Beach County. Smith was acquitted of the charges by a jury in 1991.

After the trial and with the house in major disrepair, the Kennedys decided it was time to sell. In 1995, the Kennedys sold the furnished house for $4.9 million to John and Marianne Castle.

John K. Castle was the chief executive of Castle Harlan, an investment firm. The couple began an extensive restoration project costing $6 million over a period of 2 years. They used Addison Mizner's original plans to bring the house back to its initial beginnings. They added central heating and air conditioning, did a cosmetic makeover, added new restrooms for the poolroom plus marble interior for the bathrooms.

The old original bent palm trees had to be replaced in the backyard. The Castles changed the name from 'La Guerida' to 'Castillo del Mar'. They kept most of the Kennedy furniture, including extra pieces they purchased at auctions of Kennedy items. The bedroom and its furniture used by Jack and Jackie Kennedy was totally preserved just as it was during the Kennedy 'Camelot' years.

Where some may have torn the old estate home down, the Castles have not only preserved a piece of history but given it new life for decades to come.




The Kennedys in Palm Beach

On Jan. 3, 1961, Richard Avedon arrived at the Kennedy home in Palm Beach, Fla.

There he set up his famous white paper background, loaded his Rollieflex cameras with

2 1/4-inch film, pulled up the piano bench and began to photograph the president-elect,

John F. Kennedy, and his young family. He got a preview of Jackie in her Inaugural Gala

gown designed by Oleg Casini.

These would be the only formal photographs made between the time of the election

and his inauguration. Six of the images appeared in the February 1961 issue of Harper's Bazaar,

where Avedon was employed.

Avedon 1961 contact sheet.



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Steve Brawley (314) 740-0298