… the illustrious back garden of John Kenneth Galbraith’s house on Professors’ Row comes into focus. UD walks around its big green square, stopping to check out the bones of various dogwoods and cherries. There’s a little brick amphitheater with curved urns; there’s a pergola on the way to the shed. The long balcony facing the garden also looks good for orations.
Inside and out, the enormous convoluted old house (there are big public rooms, but, in the way of old houses, many dark passageways with unexpected steps up and down) looks good for formal gatherings, and indeed Galbraith often met classes, held end-of-year celebrations, and hosted visiting dignitaries, here. The “large oak bookcase in John Kenneth Galbraith’s elegant sitting room in Cambridge” glimmers, in the day-long winter dusk, with title after title by and about him.
I remember his monumental physical presence in the chair just there, between two vast, sashed, windows; he sat amiably, almost without moving, rehearsing tales of Roosevelt and Kennedy.
“Ken and Kitty’s house on Francis Avenue was, for decades, Boston’s most glittering intellectual and political salon.” It is very quiet now, on a cold Christmas night. Underlit throughout, it whispers that history.