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Design Notes for JFK's Virginia Retreat Headed to Auction

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Sitting on over 160 acres of rolling hills in northern Virginia, the Wexford House was supposed to be the perfect rural oasis for John and Jackie Kennedy. In reality, the former first family was only able to spend three weekends there before President Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. The 5,000-square-foot ranch-style home went up for sale for the first time in 22 years in December 2013, asking $11M. But now, over a year later, it's still hanging onto the market at a drastically reduced price of $7.95M. Though no one seems enamored by the house today, it was undoubtedly special to the Kennedys. As an upcoming auction of the entire 400-piece Wexford House archives reveals, Jackie lovingly oversaw the whole design and construction process and showered the house with praise when it was completed.

Run by Boston's RR Auction, the sale will launch on February 12 with a minimum bid of $500. In addition to the official building plans, the collection includes handwritten letters Jackie sent to the builders, her own design sketches, and of course, torn-out pages from shelter magazines. Here's a closer look:

"...everyone agrees that house is really a dream."

"This house may not be perfectly proportioned—but it has EVERYTHING."

"P.S. Do you think it would be possible to have that little circulating pump water fountain gurgling in our Rock Garden by the time we get there in October?"

Cautious to avoid looking like she was spending lavishly, Jackie's notes conveyed a concern for frugality. Like the letter above, which inquired about a certain water fountain feature "if it isn't too expensive," a few of the annotations on these magazine pages also include mentions of cheaper design options.

"This kind of long window nice for master bedrooms—unless too expensive..."

"Doesn't have to be this fancy marble..."

Jackie's layout sketch:

And a few official White House photos of the interior:

· Jacqueline Kennedy Wexford House Archive [RR Auction]
· Inside JFK and Jackie's Custom Virginia Spread, Asking $11M [Curbed National]
· On His Birthday, Mapping John F. Kennedy's Many Homes [Curbed National]
· All JFK coverage [Curbed National]