In 1926 Joseph P. Kennedy, at age 38 already a millionaire, although not as wealthy as he would become, was living in Brookline and renting a summer home on the south shore in Cohasset. He and his wife Rose both loved to play golf and he was put up for membership in the exclusive Cohasset Country Club. He was blackballed, apparently for being an Irish Catholic. A lot of history was changed by that decision. Instead of settling into the wealthy seaside community much closer to Boston than Cape Cod, Kennedy began looking around.
He found the Hyannisport Club, a golf club managed by an Irish Catholic where he was welcomed as a member. In 1926 he rented the Malcolm Cottage, a large home at the end of Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port. Two years later in 1928 he bought the house for $25,000.00 and had extensive additions and renovation work performed. Kennedy moved from Brookline to a home in Bronxville, near New York City. He also owned a home near Washington D.C. in Maryland and a winter home in Palm Beach, but Hyannis Port would be his home until his death in 1969. Rose Kennedy lived there until her own death in 1995 at age 104.
His son John F. Kennedy was 9 years old when he came to Hyannis Port with his family in 1926. The family would move to winter homes in New York, Maryland and Palm Beach. Jack would board at Choate and Harvard, stay with his father at the London embassy and spend years in the Navy. JFK would have his own homes in Virginia and Washington DC. But from age 9 until his death in 1963 Hyannis Port would be his home, the center of his world.
Jack bought his own home in Hyannis Port in 1956 at 111 Irving Avenue, behind his father’s home, looking toward Nantucket Sound across a broad lawn next to Joe’s property, part of 28 Marchant Avenue, owned by Joe’s son Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel. The three properties comprised the famous Kennedy Compound.
During the Kennedy campaign in 1960 and his Presidency, Hyannis Port became, during the summers, a major national and international dateline. The massive and intensive press coverage – newspapers, TV and glossy magazine color photos – of the wealthy, powerful and glamorous family at work and play in seaside settings focused national attention on Cape Cod. This attention combined with construction of highways to the Cape’s bridges and the mid-Cape highway exploded winter and summer populations and tourism.