RFK’s Hickory Hill Compound-A Little Known Fact!!!

When I hear the phrase, “Here’s a little known fact”. . . I’m cued in to a possible “Blogworthy” story- Read on!

Hickory Hill

Hickory Hill


Before we get to the “little known fact”, here’s some background-

Prior to our trip, which has presently landed us in Alexandria, VA, I’ve never heard of Hickory Hill. Well, now that I think of it, I have. Prior to leaving California, my sister Shelley told me that her close friend Kathleen (who we visited), lives near Hickory Hill.

Below is your only history test of the day:

Hickory Hill was RFK’s___________. Fill in the blank:

  1.  Estate

  2.  Mansion

  3.  Compound

  4.  All of the above

I’m sure they all work very well in this sentence. . .I do find the term “Compound” rather amusing. It seems that the only time I hear that term is if it: (1), has to do with a Kennedy or a Bush, and (2), is located somewhere in the Northeast. For the sake of argument, let’s tag the name as RFK’s family compound.

Note: For our grandkids who haven’t had US History yet, RFK is Robert F. Kennedy. He was a U.S. Senator, Attorney General, and the brother of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy.


That leads us to a very beautiful, Memorial Day weekend that gave us 3 straight days of moderate temperatures, beautiful blue skies, and the ultimate tour guides, Kathleen and Roger. . .the perfect combination for a neighborhood tour !

As we were driving, Kathleen pointed to the sky and noted that this was a “Carolina Blue” sky. The University of North Carolina’s (Tar Heels), school color is derived from this magnificent blue.  This is exactly the type of local information that is so much fun to learn about on this trip.

As we approached Hickory Hill, we were met by the beautiful view of the estate below (previously sold by the Kennedy’s).

Our First View!

Our First View!

My first observation of the estate was how close it was to a semi major thoroughfare.  As you can see, it is a lovely residence, especially with that Carolina Blue sky as a backdrop!

See the link at the bottom of this story showing pictures of the RFK family at Hickory Hill.

According to the National Park Service’s (NPS) National Register of Historic Places nomination form, it is a part of the Langley Fork Historic District, in Fairfax County. For locals reading this, it states that the Langley Fork Historic District is in the proximity of the Georgetown Pike and the Old Chain Bridge road.

The name “Langley” was named by Thomas Lee (of the General Robert E. Lee family tree) for his ancestral estate in England. Hickory Hill was one of six key structures to form the core of the Langley Fork Historic District which has some Civil War significance, and yes, the CIA headquarters is close by!

The form states that it is an 1870 circa, 2.5 story brick home that was altered in 1931 and enlarged by RFK in 1964.


The Little Known Fact. At some point in the drive, Kathleen divulged “the little known fact”, and here it is. Most people and even locals, associate this estate as RFK’s. However, they are not aware that it was actually bought and lived in for a few years by the future President of the United States, John F. Kennedy prior to Robert F. Kennedy!

A few days after our drive I wanted to learn more. So. . .back to our (NPS) National Register of Historic Places nomination form. The form states that Senator (later President) John F. Kennedy owned the home after a Supreme Court Justice named Robert Jackson. John F. Kennedy presumably lived in the house at some time after 1953 and prior to RFK’s ownership.

There is a tidbit of interesting information here. Apparently John F. Kennedy was a neighborhood activist. He was part of a group that wanted to retain the character of the whole area.  The form states that when the Virginia Department of Highway and Transportation wanted to widen the Langley Fork intersection, Kennedy was part of a committee of local residents that were instrumental in thwarting that plan, resulting in a new alignment, which became Dolley Madison Blvd.

I won’t delve into it here, but when reading a history on the naming of Dolley Madison Blvd, it relates to the War of 1812 when Dolley Madison fled to this area from Washington D.C. in 1814 as the British were burning the city! See the link at the bottom of this story for more information.


Below are a few more pictures of the RFK Compound.

Front View

Front View


Side View

Side View


Farewell Hickory Hill!

Farewell Hickory Hill!


In closing, Louise and I are finding that the sheer amount of tidbits of history in and around Washington DC is quite overwhelming! It would be fun to know what national decisions occurred at Hickory Hill, who were the famous guests, and. . .what kind of parties took place there. We are sure that it would take a lifetime to find out all of the golden nuggets and morsels of United States history just in this area alone. I think it’s calling us for a return visit some day!!!

Check out the Virginia Living link below for more information on Hickory Hill.

Cheers, Smitty and Louise


1. RFK Hickory Hill family pictures


2. Dolley Madison Blvd background (read “history” section” at the bottom)


3. Story on Hickory Hill in Virginia Living magazine



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2 Responses to RFK’s Hickory Hill Compound-A Little Known Fact!!!

  1. kgcupp says:

    How about the bus trip to NYC?

  2. Smitty says:

    Actually, we just posted a blog a few minutes ago that gives a general overview of the bus trip. We are planning a trip from 11-18 June to pet sit a pet up there and plan to have several blogs from that trip, thanks for the idea! Smitty