Hickory Hill and the Kennedy Mystique

The McLean Mansion's most famous resident, RFK, was assassinated 50 years ago this month.

Ethel remained at Hickory Hill until 2003, when she put it on the market for five times its assessed value, a reported $25 million. At that point, the 7,850-square-foot mansion had 13 bedrooms, according to county records, but it needed significant repairs. It had no garage or central air conditioning, and the electrical and plumbing systems were out of date.

Tech magnate Alan Dabbiere bought the house in 2009 for $8.25 million. He and his wife, Ashley, spent the next three years modernizing the interiors, while taking pains to preserve the style of its famed facade.

Today, the residence continues to preside over Chain Bridge Road, where it’s stood as an emblem of elegance and power for nearly a century and a half. But it still bears a few folksy touches.

At the bottom of the driveway, where it intersects with the public street, a farmhouse-shaped mailbox is plainly labeled with white lettering. The mailbox simply reads “Hickory Hill.”

Matt Blitz is a history, science and travel journalist whose work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Washingtonian, Atlas Obscura and Food & Wine. He also heads up the Atlas Obscura Society DC, creating adventures for D.C.’s curious-minded.


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