Why Martha’s Vineyard Remains a Portrait of the Kennedys’ Influential Style: Fashion and Decor at Jackie’s ‘Romantic’ $27 Million Summer Getaway

LONDON — Martha’s Vineyard, an island that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis escaped to as a safe haven in the late ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s was struck with tragedy a few years after her own death, but has remained a center point for family moments, and a portrait of the family’s influential style at their summer getaway, located off the coast of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.

In 1979, Onassis paid $1 million for a 340-acre property in Martha’s Vineyard with a private, mile-long beach, otherwise known as Red Gate Farm. She commissioned architect Hugh Newel Jacbosen to design a Cape Cod-style main house alongside a two-story guesthouse. Socialite Rachel “Bunny” Mellon was entrusted with the property’s landscaping.

Caroline Kennedy’s Wedding at Red Gate Farm

After Onassis’s death, Red Gate Farm was inherited by her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, in 1994, who married Edwin Schlossberg on Martha’s Vineyard in 1986. The bride wore Carolina Herrera, as did her mother.

Caroline B. Kennedy (CR) entering the church with uncle Edward M. Kennedy (CL) on her wedding day.    (Photo by Steve Liss/Getty Images)

Caroline B. Kennedy entering the church with uncle Edward M. Kennedy on her wedding day.

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Caroline’s Kennedy’s dress was made from white silk organza with a round neckline, short sleeves, a drop waist and a 25-foot train. The bodice of the gown was covered with hundreds of embroidered white shamrocks and a single four-leaf clover for luck. The shamrocks were also featured on the hem of the dress.

Onassis wore a pale green dress with high shoulder pads and long sleeves paired with long white gloves to the wedding. Her minimal ensemble was accessorized with a pair of flower earrings.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (L) and former brother-in-law Edward M. Kennedy, exiting the church after Caroline Kennedy's wedding to Edwin Scholossberg.    (Photo by Steve Liss/Getty Images)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and former brother-in-law Edward M. Kennedy, exiting the church after Caroline Kennedy’s wedding to Edwin Scholossberg.

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The bridesmaids, which included Courtney Kennedy Ruhe and Sydney Lawford McKelvy, wore lilac floral print Grecian-inspired dresses that matched their flower crowns. Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger was matron of honor.

Caroline’s brother, John F. Kennedy Jr., was the groom’s best man.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (R) & daughter Caroline Kennedy (C) strolling dockside before/after yacht ride w. vacationing Clintons.    (Photo by Dirck Halstead/Getty Images)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and daughter Caroline Kennedy.

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Kennedy Style on Red Gate Farm

The British royal family take off their tiaras and gowns at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, whereas for American royalty, the Kennedys, they let their hair down at Martha’s Vineyard. It’s where Onassis would swap her pillbox hats for straw hats with sleeveless shirts and short shorts.

On a private boat trip with Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1993, Onassis is photographed wearing a red-striped long-sleeve T-shirt with a red scarf tied around her head with sunglasses, almost as a nod to her first cousin, Little Edie’s eccentric style at Grey Gardens.

The Kennedy Curse Strikes Martha’s Vineyard

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash off the coast of the small island in the state of Massachusetts with his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister Lauren Bessette.

The couple and Lauren were given a sea burial by the U.S. Navy, off the coast of Massachusetts.

The Remodeling of the Kennedy Home on Martha’s Vineyard

In 2000, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg commissioned Deborah Berke, the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, to remodel the property. The main house expanded to 6,456-square-feet and the guest house to include four bedrooms and a kitchen.

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis & daughter Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg on bd. yacht Relemar (hosting vacationing Clintons).    (Photo by Dirck Halstead/Getty Images)

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and daughter Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.

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Other amenities on the property included a three bedroom caretaker’s house, a pool, boathouse, tennis court, two garages, a temperature-controlled storage building, and an original hunting cabin that was there when Onassis purchased the land. 

Kennedy Schlossberg’s daughter, Tatiana Schlossberg, married her now-husband, George Moran, in 2017 at the home.

The Future of the Kennedy Home on Martha’s Vineyard

In 2019, the estate was listed for sale by Kennedy Schlossberg for $65 million.

“Forty years ago, my mother fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard. When she found Red Gate Farm, it was a perfect expression of her romantic and adventurous spirit,” she said at the time. “The dunes and ponds and rolling hills of Aquinnah gave her the chance to create a world where she could be so close to nature, close to her family and friends, and, most importantly, close to her beloved books.”

BILL CLINTON ON MARTHA'S VINEYARD (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Martha’s Vineyard.

Sygma via Getty Images

The house was a personal safe haven for Onassis. It has been documented that when she was 10 years old, she journaled: “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.”

The blue sea can be see from every room in the house apart from the dining room.

The property was sold to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission and the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation in September 2020 for $27 million.

The nonprofits announced in a statement that they planned to turn the property into conservation land open to the public.

Below, see photos of the Kennedy Family’s Hyannisport Compound.

kennedy family compound, hyannisport estate, home, jfk, jackie kennedy

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