Hammersmith Farm

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John F. Kennedy arrives at Hammersmith Farm in 1962
Hammersmith Farm garden, 1930
Hammersmith Farm, 1968

Hammersmith Farm is a Victorian mansion and surrounding property located in Newport, Rhode Island, United States and was the childhood home of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The property hosted the wedding reception of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy. During his presidency, Kennedy spent enough time at Hammersmith Farm that it was referred to as the "Summer White House". Notably, President Kennedy announced that John McCone would become the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during one of his stays at Hammersmith in late September 1961.


The main house on Hammersmith Farm was built in 1887 for John W. Auchincloss, the great-grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy's stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss. The house was located in an area of the island originally known as "Hammersmith" after the hometown of the first settler of the area, William Brenton, a 17th-century governor who founded the first farm on the site in 1640. The house was opened for public tours in 1978.

Following the death of Hugh Auchincloss, Jr., Fruit of the Loom executive William F. Farley bought the mainhouse for $6.675 million in 1997. In 1999, he sold it for over $8 million to Peter Kiernan, a partner at Goldman Sachs, who restored the failing edifice and converted the home back to private use. The house had not been lived in since 1974 (over 25 years) and had fallen into serious disrepair.

Many of the original plumbing pipes were inoperable, wiring had frayed from time and rodent damage. Bricks were coming loose and wood rot was everywhere. Each year the building was tipping a little more towards Fort Adams. A major restoration was required to save the damaged structure. Kiernan oversaw a multi-year rehabilitation of the building, working with noted restoration architectural firm Windigo, headed by James Gubelman. Major structural flaws necessitated the removal of one end of the building and the installation of steel and wooden beams for support. The house had suffered from decades of wood rot from leaking windows and was listing towards the left. Outside the brick was bowing due to many successive winters of freezing and expansion. Popping and falling bricks during the winter was routine. The interiors were painstakingly disassembled and numbered and new plumbing, HVAC, and wiring were installed. Later the numbered moldings and fixtures were replaced in their original positions so the historic rooms looked exactly as they had when the building was constructed in 1887, save for the electricity and modern plumbing.

The exterior was restored with equal sensitivity to the original structure. Working with Gubelman and the Historic District Commission, the team removed metal and plexiglass porches, reset brick to match the original, and removed the light green paint used to hide the mismatched brick from decades of repairs. Windows were rebuilt to protect the house from the fierce sea winds of winter. New shingles and roof were installed following the original architectural plans and the many sketches and photographs taken of the building over its 120-year history. Happily, the building had been recorded from numerous angles and vantage points over the many decades, and a clear visual history existed as a guide. The goal of the owners, architects, and the HDC was to restore the farm as closely as possible to the appearance one might have enjoyed in 1888. About half of the original furnishings were returned to the Auchincloss family under a prior agreement, and the family sold them off in a Christie's auction in 2000, which fetched $233,620.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jackie's Family Farm". Forbes.com. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°28′09″N 71°20′46″W / 41.469109°N 71.346062°W / 41.469109; -71.346062