Jackie Kennedy nuts, White House voyeurs, closet society mavens--whatever your guilty pleasure, it's impossible to resist the lure of Newport's Hammersmith Farm, the summer home of the Auchincloss clan for four generations and site of the Summer White House during the Kennedy administration.
This 28-room, brick-and-shingle "cottage" on Narragansett Bay has spectacular ocean views and gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, but the heck with that. This is your chance to see the elegant, red-carpeted staircase where Jackie posed in 1947 as Debutante of the Year! Peek into the formal living room, where she and her new husband, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy, welcomed their wedding guests in 1953, in a receiving line that lasted 2 1/2 hours. Stroll the sloping lawn, where JFK helicoptered into town on summer weekends. Snoop around Jackie's childhood room, with its horsey trophies and memorabilia; Janet Auchincloss's bedroom, with its rather alarming floral theme; and the relatively austere grandchildren's bedrooms on the third floor, where Caroline and John Jr. bunked. "Hammersmith is beautiful all year round," Caroline scrawled in her grandmother's guest book. "My favorite house anywhere. Caroline Kennedy."
This is some cottage. Thirteen fireplaces. Seventeen bathrooms. Call buttons ("M" for maid, "P" for pantry) in every room. A "deck room," complete with a stuffed pelican hanging from the ceiling, with teak floors and ceiling beams, built to resemble an upside-down ship. It does.
Hammersmith Farm (Ocean Drive--there's no street number, dahling) is about a 45-minute drive from I-95 north. Take Exit 3 (Route 138) and follow signs for Newport Bridge. Once in Newport, follow the signs for Ocean Drive and Fort Adams State Park; the farm is adjacent to Fort Adams. Guided tours are offered daily from April through mid-November; admission is $8.50. Details: 401-846-7346.
CAPTION: Hammersmith Farm: Colossal cottage on the bay.