The main house on the Kennedys' oceanfront compound, the scene of many of the famed political family's gatherings in times of joy and sorrow, has been donated to an institute named for the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
The Boston-based institute on Monday released a statement announcing the transaction, which it said was in keeping with the wishes of the late senator, who promised his mother the Hyannis Port home would be preserved for charitable use. The institute said the house would host seminars and educational programs and eventually would be opened to the general public.
Ted Kennedy's son Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman, said there could be "no greater testament to his legacy" than allowing the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate to turn the home into a place of learning.
"My father had great passion for the United States Senate," he said. "It was his life for many years."
The 12-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot house hosted the family's famous touch football games, the wedding of Patrick Kennedy and the wedding reception for Ted Kennedy's niece Caroline Kennedy. It was the summer White House for President John F. Kennedy and was the place the family gathered after he was assassinated in 1963.
When John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999, the family met to mourn there. And Ted Kennedy spent his final days there before dying of brain cancer in 2009.
Ted Kennedy Jr. called the house "my family's epicenter," a place that hosted outdoor games and vigorous political debate as well as "times of both happiness and pain."
"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," he said.
The late senator's parents, Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, bought the property in 1928. His widow, Vicki Kennedy, most recently lived at the house, which sits on roughly 2 acres in Cape Cod and is valued at $5.5 million.
The plans to donate the house initially raised concerns from some Kennedy family members, who worried about the privacy of those still living in neighboring houses and about preserving beachfront access and the overall character of the compound.
On Monday, the institute said Kennedy family members living there will still get access to the beach through the grounds and will be allowed limited recreational access to the property.
The institute said it will assemble a team of experts, including historian Michael Beschloss, to make recommendations on property usage, programming and public visitations.
Ted Kennedy institute: http://emkinstitute.org/