JFK Opposed Widening Chain Bridge Road

Sometimes we forget that famous people are also regular people with problems other than running a country. JFK was a young senator from Massachusetts when he lived off of Chain Bridge Road in McLean. He and his wife lived at Hickory Hill for a short period before selling the estate to his brother Bobby.

We came across an old article in The Washington Post from 1969 detailing Kennedy’s opposition to widening Chain Bridge Road from McLean into the District. Clearly this was largely motivated by his desire to keep his property on a quieter, less trafficked road.

Hickory Hill - the Kennedy estate on Chain Bridge Road
Hickory Hill – the Kennedy estate on Chain Bridge Road

Below is an excerpt from the piece.

John F. Kennedy became a McLean resident shortly after becoming senator from Massachusetts. He played a leading role in determining the route of the future Dolley Madison Boulevard, McLean’s principal thoroughfare.

Mr. Kennedy was among those credited with persuading Virginia highway authorities to pursue a route across largely open fields rather than widen Chain Bridge Road which would have destroyed one of McLean’s most beautiful streets–which he lived on.

There was an aside in the piece with some other interesting factoids about McLean’s history:

The first effort to organize and develop a town center in the McLean area was undertaken in 1772 by Philip Ludwell Lee, who named the community Philee.

In 1790, it became Matildaville, named for Lee’s daughter and first wife of Henry (Lighthorse Harry) Lee. Matildaville was followed by South Lowell, Potomac, Lewinsville and Langley as organized communities in the McLean area.

Lewinsville and Langley combined to form McLean in 1910. The town was named for John R. McLean, publisher of The Washington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer and principal stockholder in the Great Falls and Old Dominion Electric Railway.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

Check Also

The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame memorial under construction in Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

President Kennedy’s Gravesite Under Construction in 1965

This is a fascinating old photo from October 6th, 1965 at Arlington National Cemetery. The …