Monday, November 11, 2013

Washington Social Diary

Jackie and JFK outside Holy Trinity Church in 1962.
THE JFK 50TH, PART 1: A WALKING TOUR OF KENNEDYTOWN
by Carol Joynt

These next two weeks, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we will be transported back in memories and history to the catastrophic moment when he was murdered in Dallas. It’s a vivid memory for those who were alive when it happened (and I will write about that next week). For younger generations, it is history. Either way there are ample opportunities to become immersed in what it was like — JFK’s presidency, the aura of “Camelot,” the killing and the funeral — with TV specials, films, books, magazine and newspaper features and blogs.

Top: 3307 N. The Kennedys did famous TV interviews from the this home and departed from it in a heavy snow for the pre-inaugural gala and the inauguration.

Above: Jackie and JFK, heading out the front door at 3307 N Street.
Washington, of course, offers unique opportunities, and in particular Georgetown, where Jack Kennedy lived as a bachelor and where he and Jacqueline Bouvier lived as newlyweds, a beguiling and ambitious political couple on the rise, and where they and their friends partied during the White House years. The Kennedy presence is so deeply hardwired into Georgetown that the small, charming and elegant neighborhood could be known as Kennedytown. Point me in any direction and I’ll share with you a piece of Kennedy lore.

Which is why I’ve created a small walking tour of the village. Jack and Jackie, their families and friends, colleagues and wannabes, were authentic denizens. They lived in the houses, walked the sidewalks, shopped in the stores, ate at the restaurants, drank in the pubs and helped burnish an enduring and romantic legacy.  While most of the commercial elements of the Kennedy era are long gone, with the exception of one or two, the houses remain. The residential part of Georgetown looks pretty much the same as it did in the early 1960s. This walk will take you back in time.

I start and end with two iconic Georgetown pubs, because they perfectly open and close the experience. The Tombs (http://www.tombs.com) and Martins Tavern (http://www.martins-tavern.com), both open every day of the week for morning into evening eating and drinking, which allows for the option of taking this tour after dark.  The Tombs is in the so-called “west” village and on the edge of the Georgetown University campus. Richard McCooey opened this cozy, clubby basement bar when JFK was president. He also created the more formal upstairs 1789, which serves only dinner.

Martin's Tavern has a direct connection to the Kennedys. JFK liked to come here solo for breakfast (a meal they still serve daily), and on dates with Jackie, and the legend is he proposed to her in booth #3.

For the purpose of having to start somewhere, I start this walk at The Tombs and end at Martin’s, but it would be easy to do the same walk in reverse. It covers both sides of the village — east and west — goes up and down hills and would probably take about an hour.

• The Tombs. 1226 36th Street. Phone: 202.337.6668. Sit at the square bar or slide into a booth. Have a beer or a martini and a very good hamburger, which will fortify you for the walk ahead.
The Tombs opened when the Kennedys were in the White House. It is a basement pub and quintessential Georgetown. In the same building as The Tombs, but upstairs, is 1789, also opened when JFK was in the White House. It serves only dinner but is a good place to feel immersed in "Camelot."
• Holy Trinity Church. This is a block up from 1789 on 36th Street. It is the oldest Catholic Church in continuous operation in Washington. The chapel was built in 1794. President Kennedy worshipped here regularly as did his wife and their extended families.
Within view of The Tombs and 1789 is Holy Trinity Church, the favored place of worship for the Kennedy clan and other notable Washingtonians who are Catholic.
This memorial plaque is prominently displayed at the front of Holy Trinity.
• Head east to 35th Street and walk up to Dent Place. Turn right and walk a block or so over to 3321 Dent. JFK and Jackie lived here for six months in 1954.
Newlywed Sen. and Mrs. John F. Kennedy lived at 3321 Dent Place. It's a quiet street in the upper reaches of the village. There's a fire station across from the house.
Pretty 34th Street between Dent and O. This is the view walking south, headed toward 1400 34th Street.
• Turn south down 34th Street and walk the few blocks to O. JFK and his sister, Eunice, lived at 1400 34th Street  in the late '50s, before either was married. (Note: across the street at 1405 is the former home of Amb. David K.E. Bruce and his wife, Evangeline. It is now owned by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.)
At 1400 34th Street is a house JFK shared with his sister, Eunice Kennedy. It was in the late 1940s before he married Jacqueline and she married Sargent Shriver. Across the street is a stately residence that once belonged to Amb. David K.E. Bruce and his wife, Evangeline, a noted hostess of the Camelot era. It's now home to Under Armour founder Kevin Plank and his wife.
• From O Street walk down to N and turn left. 3307 N is where Jack and Jackie lived when he was elected president. There are many images — photos and video — of them in this house. An famous shot is of them in formal wear, heading out in a snowstorm to his pre-inaugural gala.
A block over from 1400 34th is the intersection 33rd and N Streets. The house at 3307 N is where JFK and Jackie lived when he was elected president.
• From 3307 N walk to the east to Potomac Street. Turn left, walk up Potomac to O, turn right toward Wisconsin and then across and up to P Street. Turn right on P and walk to 31st. At the corner of 31st and P, turn left and walk up to 1528 31st.  This was JFK’s bachelor pad as a young congressman in 1947-48.
From N, walk up Potomac Street to O and turn right and head toward P Street. Take it across Wisconsin Avenue to 31st and turn left.
• Turn, walk back down to P Street, and go left, toward the east. Along the way you will pass 3028 P Street. It’s not a Kennedy home but is strongly connected to Camelot. It was home to Dorcas Hardin, a designer (grand dame and hostess) who owned Washington’s most fashionable clothing boutique, which was in Georgetown. Jackie shopped there as did her friends. It was open into the late '70s. Hardin died in 2006.
At 1528 31st Street is where John Kennedy for a time while he was a new senator. The house at 2808 P Street is where the Kennedys lived as he built his presidential campaign. They moved here in 1957, after publication of Profiles in Courage. On your way there, be sure to stop in front of 3028 P, which was home to Dorcas Hardin, a fixture of the Camelot era.
• Continue on P Street to 2808. We wrote about this house earlier (NYSD 5.30.13), upon the release of a vintage video of Jackie that was shot here and around the neighborhood.
• At the corner of 28th and P stop into Stachowski’s market, now a popular butcher shop but also a market when the Kennedy’s lived nearby.
Half a block from the Kennedys P Street home was their local market, now Stachowski's, a popular butcher shop.
• Head down 28th and at Dumbarton look for 2720 Dumbarton. This was the home of columnist Joe Alsop, a social force of the Kennedy era. Famously, JFK showed up there to continue the party in the wee hours after his inauguration. It has been called his “safe house.” Legend has it he liked to pop over for other social occasions — and liaisons — and to take a dip in Alsop’s pool. I’ve been in the house (in fact, with DPC and JH) and wished the walls could talk.
2720 Dumbarto is not a typical Georgetown house but it has some of the richest Kennedy history. It was home to writer Joseph Alsop. It's where Kennedy partied and allegedly cavorted into the wee hours after his inauguration and on other occasions. It was the "safe house" of Camelot.
• Walk down to N Street and turn right, heading west, and go to 3017 N, a beautiful mansion shrouded by ancient magnolias. This was Jackie Kennedy’s last Washington home. But she didn’t stay long. The memories, and the tourists outside her door, prompted her to pack up and move to New York. Briefly her stepsister Nina and husband Michael Straight lived there before it was sold to Yolande Bebeze Fox, who still lives there. History buffs will be pleased to know that on the inside it is still architecturally as it was when Jackie lived there with Caroline and John-John. In fact, some of John-John’s toys are still in the basement.
3017 N was the home Jackie Kennedy bought after the assassination, but she lived there only a brief time before moving to New York and making her new home on Park Avenue.
Jackie, her sister Lee Radziwill, decorator Billy Baldwin and a Secret Service agent leave 3017 N Street. To this day the bolts of fabric Baldwin planned to use for decorating the house remain stored in the basement.
The steps of Jackie Kennedys home at 3017 N Street. Directly across the street is the home of Washington Post legend Ben Bradlee and his wife, Sally Quinn. As you pass Jackie's house and go west you will head toward the Harriman House at 3038.
(Note: across the street at 3014 is the former home of Robert Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son. For years it has been the home of Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.)
The Bradlee home on N Street, across from 3017. It is the historic former home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln.
• Continue to the west just a few doors. Stop at 3038 N Street. At the time of the assassination this was where W. Averell Harriman lived with his wife, Marie. They moved out and loaned the home to Jackie as a temporary residence, while she figured out what to do next after leaving the White House. She resided here until she bought the house at 3017. (Note: In 1971, after Marie died, Harriman married Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward, who was a new widow. Harriman died in 1986. Pamela was named Ambassador to France by President Clinton in 1993. She died in Paris in 1997. The house was sold and much of the decor is still as it was when she lived there.)
Statesmen W. Averell Harriman and his wife, Marie, loaned their home at 3038 N to Jackie as a temporary residence after the assassination. It's where she lived until she bought 3017 N. Later, Harriman lived here with his third wife, Pamela. It was her home until her death in Paris in 1997.
Ethel and Robert Kennedy after a visit with Jackie at 3038 N Street.
Jackie and Caroline arrive at 3038 N Street.
• Last stop. Martin’s Tavern. From 3038 N it is just a block to the west, at the corner of Wisconsin and N. As you walk there consider the times, after the assassination, that Jackie walked along N Street to have quiet dinners with friends at Martin’s. It had to be rough, but possibly also sweetly sentimental, with the memories she had of being a young couple there and knowing it was one of her husband’s favorite places. Today, as in the '50s and '60s, it is a bustling hub of the neighborhood, attracting all generations. You could sit in booth #3, or ask for the little booth for one person — or maximum two — where JFK liked to sit alone and read the paper. The address is 1264 Wisconsin Avenue. Phone: 202-333-7370.
The walking tour almost complete, you continue West on N Street to the intersection of N and Wisconsin Avenue and cross over to Martin's Tavern.
Martin's is a must on a tour of the Kennedy's Georgetown.
Martin's is not shy about sharing the legend that JFK proposed to Jackie in booth "3" at Martin's Tavern, one of their favorite hangouts. It remains beloved by Georgetowners.
Inside Martin's on a busy Saturday afternoon. To the right is a single booth, with barely room for two people, where JFK liked to sit alone to have breakfast and read the paper.
Martin's Tavern booth "3," in the background here, is popular with locals and visitors.
Sitting outside for brunch on a pleasant November Saturday afternoon. As it was in the Kennedy era, Martin's Tavern continues to be popular, especially with young people.
Recommended reading before or after the tour or while sitting at The Tombs or Martins: Angel is Airborne by my colleague Garrett M. Graff, editor of Washingtonian magazine.

Next week: Part Two, Paying Respects at the Rotunda
Photographs by Carol Joynt.

Follow Carol on twitter @caroljoynt