The Kennedy Homes of Georgetown
Volta and the Kennedy's
To your right on the corner of Volta Place is a large yellow two-story building with massive stairs where famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell once developed technologies for the hearing impaired. Indeed, it still does. Bell opened the facility in 1880 and created the photophone that was a precursor to wireless technologies. He also created the artificial respirator after one of his sons died of lung failure.
Okay, back to the Kennedy’s. John’s father Joseph Kennedy approved of his son’s interest, feeling Jackie would one day make a fine First Lady. Indeed, she might have been the best since Eleanor Roosevelt a generation earlier.
John’s problem – Jackie was engaged to a stockbroker. Well, you don’t succeed in politics without being able to change people’s minds and sure enough John and Jackie were married in Sept. 1953 before 800 guests.
They were a young, beautiful couple. John was 12 years older than Jackie when he married at 36. John’s famed Naval career in the Pacific during World War II would lead him to write his acclaimed “Profiles in Courage” while living in Georgetown and rising from Congressman to Senator to President. Jackie grew from college student and young journalist to devoted wife and mother while influencing fashion for a generation.
We’re actually headed to the first home the couple shared. Their dinner parties were a major catalyst of change in Georgetown. The area had become impoverished in the 1890s when the canal failed and river silted up, leaving the port useless. It stayed that way until the 1940s, when president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal convinced many poor blacks to leave Georgetown for new federal housing and sell their homes to incoming whites.
When the Kennedys began hosting parties, everyone who was or wanted to be important began moving to the area. Today, it is the richest part of town. Many of the homes cost about $750,000 per bedroom. During the housing boom of the early 2000s, it was $1 million per bedroom. Even today, many homes cost between $1.5 million to $3 million and some even more.
So this is where “Camelot” began, a term Jackie coined after Jackie’s death, partly because the couple loved listening to the Broadway show Camelot’s tunes.
OK, we should be nearing Dent Street on the right.