Inside Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s home on Martha’s Vineyard
Encompassing 340 acres and more than a mile of private Atlantic Ocean beachfront, Red Gate Farm is one of the most desirable estates in New England. It is now being offered at $65 million by Christie’s International Real Estate
When Jacqueline Bouvier was 10 years old she wrote, ‘When I go down by the sandy shore I can think of nothing more I want than to live by the booming blue sea as the seagulls flutter around me.’
Some 40 years later, in 1979, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as she had become known after marriages to President John F. Kennedy and shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, made that dream a reality with the purchase of 340 acres in Aquinnah, on the undeveloped southwestern tip of Martha’s Vineyard.
As the above short film reveals, it was a heartstoppingly beautiful, near pristine oasis of windswept shoreline, untamed dunes, meadows and teeming wetlands. The rural haven — a former sheep farm, and here accessed by cameras for the very first time — boasted just one building, in the shape of a small hunting cabin.
‘My mother had grown up spending summers in Newport with her parents and grandparents,’ explains her daughter Caroline. ‘She loved exploring the Cape, sailing Nantucket Sound with my father, and being part of all the family activities and plans at Hyannis Port [the home of the Kennedy clan]. But when my brother and I were grown she wanted a place of her own, and she found Red Gate Farm.’
Jackie hired architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen to build her a traditional Cape Cod-style house, together with a two-storey guesthouse, which were completed in 1981. She invited her friend Rachel Bunny Mellon, who had redesigned the White House rose garden when Jackie was First Lady, to landscape the estate.
Now, after serving as a haven for three generations of Jackie’s family and friends — enjoying one another’s company as well as the opportunity to commune with nature — Caroline has decided to put the property on the market. Christie’s International Real Estate has priced the compound — which was renovated and expanded in 2000 by Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture — at $65 million.
‘Red Gate Farm was the perfect expression of my mother’s romantic and adventurous spirit,’ says Caroline. ‘She loved the old stone walls, the blue heron that lived in the pond behind the dunes, setting lobster pots in the pond, and building a fairy treehouse for her grandchildren.’
Caroline has helped the estate to evolve yet further into a true sanctuary for native plants and trees, animals and birds. But now that Caroline’s own children have grown up, she says, ‘It’s time for us to follow my mother’s example and create our own worlds. We hope that another family will treasure this place as much as we have.’
Whoever that family may be will be able to fish, swim and run along more than a mile of private Atlantic Ocean beachfront with dunes, as well as enjoying two freshwater ponds, a vegetable garden and blueberry patch, an outdoor pool and tennis court. The ancillary structures include a three-bedroom caretaker’s house, a barn, two garages (one with a two-bedroom apartment), a temperature-controlled storage building, and a boathouse.
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As for the elegant, cedar-shingled main building itself, there are five en-suite bedrooms, and two offices or artist studios. Perhaps most importantly of all — in keeping with 10-year-old Jackie Bouvier’s dream of how she wanted to live all those years ago — every room in the house, apart from the dining room, boasts magnificent views of that ‘booming blue sea’.
For more details about Red Gate Farm, visit Christie’s International Real Estate