Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The House That (Mrs) Kennedy Built

Here in New England, many of the media outlets have been focusing on the tragic death of Mary Richardson Kennedy, estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.. And it's not surprising. It is a terrible story, with a terrible ending. Mary Kennedy married into the Kennedy family in 1994 and had four children with Robert (Bobby) Kennedy. But beneath the seemingly glamorous sheen of their lives, there were dark shadows in the marriage. Mary suffered deep depression, thanks, in part, to her decision to give up her architecture career in order to raise her children. Robert Kennedy himself referred to this in his funeral address, and must have been well aware of the career sacrifices she had made – and the toll it took on her mental health. The couple filed for divorce in 2010, and from then on Mary's health deteriorated even further.

Being a career-focused person myself, I can only imagine the anguish Mary would have gone through in giving up her beloved architecture career to become a mother. Being a mother, of course, is possibly the most rewarding job in the world, but we all need our creative outlet. We all need something to nourish us and feed our souls besides our (much-loved) family life. It's so important to have a career or even an interest or hobby of our own. If I were asked to give up my writing and photography, I think I'd been very sad, too.

By pure chance, we are heading to Cape Cod today, and to the Kennedy Museum and Kennedy compound. We were going there anyway, but it seems particularly poignant now. Mary Kennedy was recently buried at the Centerville cemetery, only a few miles from the Kennedy seaside compound in Hyannisport. As we tour the area, I'll reflect on the sacrifices career women make.

Several years ago, GANT shot their Fall 2010 Home Collection at the Kennedy family home. The video features Mary Kennedy and the superb house she helped design and decorate.

In this video, she looks serenely beautiful.
May she now rest in peace.


  1. It's a very poignant point. I often feel rather jealous though, of women who are happy to just be a mother, without balancing all the boiling pots of water, which of course is another kettle of fish entirely from what you are talking about here. (Excuse the use of 2 metaphors in 1 sentence.)

    I have 3 children, as you know, but the thought never occurred to me to give up my career. I'm not sure how much of a good mother I would be to them anyway if I couldn't practise design.

    This is a very sad story. It seems to me that those of us who are creative souls fritter ourselves into a mess if we can't create.

    Hope you are having a brilliant time.

  2. Oh Janelle. What a heart-wrenching tale. I heard the news but didn't know this background. Thanks for the elucidation. I hope you are still enjoying yourself! J x

  3. Dear Janelle

    Have read quite a number of biographies and autobiographies in recent months of members of the Kennedy clan, beginning with Rose's autobiography and continuing through biogs of Jack and Jackie etc. Don't know about Robert Kennedy Jr but many of the Kennedy men seem to have been a difficult proposition. Their wives just seem to have learned to accept their wild ways with other women. Who knows whether this family trait may have continued down the generations and may sadly have been a contributing factor in Mary Kennedy's depression.

    The book "What Remains" by the widow of John Kennedy Jr's Radziwill cousin is a very sad brave book about some of the family. Sorry can't remember her exact name (it may have been Caroline Radziwill) and am now in Antibes so can't look it up in my home library. Looks as though you're having a wonderful time in the US, hope so! - blogs are fascinating. Following with great interest. We had a great time in Milan, the Poldi Pezzoli house museum is fascintating and did some great shopping while there. Looking forward to some time in Antibes and Provence. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. The author was Carole Radziwill.I agree I love blogs, now off to look up Poldi Pezzoli house museum

  4. It's difficult to know the whole truth, it's certainly awful for her children to lose their mother. The house you showed I really liked. Sometimes I find American houses a tad overdone

  5. I suppose I don't understand why she did give it up. I'm 59 yrs old and my mother worked while I was growing up. I think this must have been a little more complicated than that. I guess it proves a beautiful home is only beautiful if your life is in balance.

  6. Despite of this wonderful house, that I've seen on the GANT magazine, two summers ago, and loved at first sight, the tragedy of its owners hurts me a lot!
    God bless you, Mary!


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