Justice Jackson serving as prosecutor at the trial of Hermann Goering; Nuremberg, 1945
Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963.
In 1955, after Justice Jackson died, his widow sold the property to US Senator John F. Kennedy.
Just a year later, JFK sold the house to RFK and his wife, Ethel. At the time, Ethel was pregnant with their fifth (of 11) children. In the 50's and 60's, it was the center of the Kennedy political dynasty. It was a "wild, informal mixture of a children's playground, upbeat discotheque, and a humming political headquarters," described one regular visitor. One of the first things any visitor noticed was the sheer number of children and animals running around the place. "There were lots of kids," remembers one of them, Kathleen Kennedy Townshend. "There were plenty of horses, many dogs, chickens, geese, goats. It was a menagerie... my brother Bobby collected reptiles. And actually the turtle was in the laundry room. The sea lion was in the swimming pool."
No visit to Hickory Hill could be complete without some kind of sporting event, particularly one of the legendary games of Kennedy touch football. Family members were notoriously competitive, and played by a rulebook of their own. "If you were going out for a pass, you had to fly," recalled famous sportswriter George Plimpton. "Bobby was sour if you missed one."
Invitations to Hickory Hill were highly coveted, and no place better expressed the personality of its owners. Another Kennedy trait in evidence at Hickory Hill was curiosity. He and Ethel surrounded themselves with accomplished people from all walks of life -- scientists, entertainers, academics, athletes, politicians -- and grilled them all equally. Kennedy was a voracious reader and lifelong student, and once invited noted Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger to organize a series of seminars at Hickory Hill. The lectures, organized around dinner and drinks, attracted upwards of sixty people who heard from leading thinkers from a variety of disciplines. Afterwards the Kennedys would lead the question session. "A thousand and one questions," remembered John Glenn, who was asked what it was like to feel weightless while orbiting Earth.
Even guests at the frequent parties the Kennedys threw were fair game. "A Hickory Hill party was an odd mixture of high sophistication and childish hijinks. Dinner guests might include the Russian ambassador to the United States and the Secretary of State," according to Kennedy biographer Evan Thomas, "but there was a pretty good chance somebody gets thrown in the swimming pool."
Ethel and her eleven children continued to live at Hickory Hill for many years after RFK's death.