The undertaking was almost daunting enough to deter Amy and former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy – son of the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy – from even taking on the renovation of the 1904 Hyannis Port “garage” that had fallen to them. But the desire to give their burgeoning brood of kids the same idyllic summertime experiences Patrick had grown up with overruled any hesitations.
Vivid images of the famed Kennedy compound are emblazoned in the eyes of several generations: Marine One landing on the lawn for weekends President John F. Kennedy spent with his brothers; cousins running toward the helicopter to greet their fathers. Patrick wasn’t born yet, but he speaks of it as if he remembers. But for one of the most iconic bloodlines in America, the approach to design is far from flashy. Amy and Patrick repurposed much of what was inside the dusty inherited former carriage house of the residence his Irish Catholic grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., with wife Rose Kennedy, purchased in 1928, “principally because they weren’t allowed to join any other community,” says Patrick of the place they famously raised their nine children. ”What my wife, Amy, did was transform what was frankly a garage into a home,” says Patrick of the year-and-a-half-long renovation.
Their thrifty, respectful renovation is an approach that must be genetic, since Patrick recalls knowing “it was never about the big house, the ornate architecture. The house was just a location. My grandparents were obviously very, very wealthy, but they never, ironically, invested a lot building out a really fancy house,” he says. “They were never trying to impress anyone. It’s very understated. [Our house] is a very glorified bunkhouse, a crash pad that has very nice architectural aesthetics.”
The Kennedys have most of their meals at home or at a family member’s house when in Hyannis Port, so a functional kitchen plus dining table that fit their brood were key.