Sept 19 – John Adams and John Quincy Adams Homesteads

Despite both of us having grown up just outside Boston and gone to college in and around the city, neither of us had ever visited the National Historic Park dedicated to the lives of our Second and Sixth presidents, John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams.  The park pays tribute to not only John and John Quincy Adams (the first father and son presidents, the first one-term presidents and the first two presidents to have never owned slaves) but also their wives, John's wife Abigail and John Quincy's wife Louisa Catherine (the only first lady born outside the United States until Donald Trump's wife Melania), John Quincy's son Charles Francis Adams and two of his seven children Henry and Brooks Adams.

The site's main historic features include:

John Adams Birthplace, where 2nd U.S. President John Adams was born on October 30, 1735,

The house is a 2½ story wood frame structure, sheathed in wooden clapboards.

The doorway is framed by pilasters and topped by an entablature and triangular pediment. 

The house continues to rest on its original foundation.

The land on which the house sits was first owned by William Needham, who built a house on the property (circa 1650).  Records seem to indicate the front part of the house was built in 1722, or shortly thereafter by John’s father, Deacon John Adams.  The framing of the east side incorporates a number of reused timbers dating to the 1670s.

There are two main rooms, one on either side of a central chimney, on each of the two floors, and there are two further rooms in the lean to section on the first floor. The main facade is three bays wide with the entry in the center.

Old Kitchen later changed to a dining room

Larger kitchen and room used by Deacon John Adams for meeting with parishoners and town officials



Replica of the desk used by John Adams after passing the Massacusetts bar exam

Cobbler room which Deacon Adams, a part-time farmer, used to make shoes during the winter months

A 13-star and 13-stripe flag flies outside the home

and less than 75 yards away the John Quincy Adams Birthplace where his son John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President was born on July 11, 1767. 


The house is a ‚Äč2½  story wood frame saltbox style house, sheathed in wooden clapboards.  

There are two main rooms, one on either side of a central chimney, on each of the two floors, and there are two further rooms in the lean-to section on the first floor.  The main facade is three bays wide with the entry in the center. The doorway is framed by pilasters and topped by an entablature and triangular pediment.  A similarly-treated entrance is located at the southeast corner of the building.

The house was built in 1717, with the rear lean-to added later.  This house was purchased in 1744 by Deacon John Adams, and was probably enlarged by him, adding the rooms on the other side of the chimney.  He gave the house to his son, the future second president, in 1761.  The younger John Adams moved into the house in 1764; it was around this time that the lean-to was added, as well as the door trim and the secondary entrance.

Fire bucket located beside the front door … required by city regulations




DIning Room

John Adams Law Office … his law desk (replica) in the corner, where he penned the Massachusetts Constitution in 1779, which bagan with the words, "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."

A copy of the Massachusetts Constitution sits on the table in the center of the room

From their birthplaces, we continued our trolly tour

to the "Old House" at Peacefield.

Beautiful gardens are remnants of the larger farm which once was part of the Peacefield estate

a 48-star flag flies outside the "Old House'

home to four generations of the Adams family;  John and Abigail Adams and later the home of John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams, their son Charles Francis Adams and his two of his sons Henry and Brooks Adams.

Wooden plaue with reproduced signatures of the five men over four generations who lived in the Old House

The oldest portion of the house was built in 1731 by a sugar-planter from Jamaica, and acquired by John and Abigail Adams in 1787 after its loyalist owners fled from Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War.

The Old House when purchased by John Adams in 1787

In 1787, the Adams were were still residents in London, but returned in 1788 to occupy the house and its 40 acres of farmland and orchards. They were disagreeably surprised by the house, however, after their years in England as the house at that time consisted of only two low-ceilinged rooms on the ground floor, two bedrooms, and an attic.  Abigail Adams described it as feeling, "like a wren’s nest."

During the subsequent 12 years, with Adams living in Philadelphia first as Vice President and then as President, Abigail Adams attended to the house and farm.  She greatly expanded it, adding what is now the right side of the front facade, with a fine hallway and large parlor on the ground floor and a large study above.  The additions were built in the Georgian style with a gambrel roof creating a nearly full attic story.

Adams returned to the house full-time in 1801 after his defeat for a second presidential term. His son John Quincy Adams also returned to the house at that time, after completing his ambassadorial term in Berlin.  Further extensions to the house were made by John Quincy Adams’ son, Charles Francis Adams.

Door knocker John Adams saw in Philadlephia and brought back to Quincy for his Old House home


Abigails' "Good Luck" upside-down horseshoe over the front door



Dining Room


Chinese bowl John bought in Europe for Abigail as it could not be imported directly into America at that time

Original portraits for George and Martha Wasshington, a gift to the Adams from the nation's first president



Kitchen Bells to call servants, each represeting a different room in the house

Grandfather's clock owned by John and Abigail Adams which still "ticks" and shows the correct time

Clothes washer


John Adams Office

On July 4, 1826, at the age of 90 and fifty years to the date after the signing fo the Declaration of Independence, John Aadams watched a July 4th parade pass by the front of his house while sititng in this chair, his niece was by his side.  At around 6:00 PM, he allegedly said, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." and then quietly passed away.  He was mistaken: Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 82.


Living Room


Upstairs Hallway furniture and banster


John and Abigail's Bedroom



Guset Room


Servants Quarters, this room also displaying a dress Abigail wore for an official White Hosue portrait

 Main Floor hallway busts of George Washington and John Adams, portraits and memorials

Louisa Christine Adams and her sister Kitty

Memorial made by the Moravian Girls School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania


Nearby, but physically separated from the Old House is the Stone Library. 

It is home to over 12,000 volumes,

reflecting the literary tastes and interests of four generations of Adams men and women, beginning with John Adams in 1768.  Today, about 10% of the books belonged to the second U.S. President, John Adams.  The greater part of the remainder belonged to his son, sixth U.S. President, John Quincy Adams.

In his will, John Quincy Adams requested that a fireproof structure be constructed separate from the house for the proper use of his books, papers and maps. In 1870, his son, Charles Francis Adams succeeded in fulfilling his father's wishes with the construction of the medieval style Stone Library. His sons and grandsons all used the library for writing. Charles Francis Adams worked on the tenth volume, Diary of John Adams, the twelve volume, The Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, and The Letters of Abigail Adams. His son, Henry Adams worked on his, History of the United States, writing to friend John Hay, I write history as though it were serious, five hours a day; and when my hand and head get tired, I step out in the rose-beds and watch my favorite roses.".

John Adams had a life-long passion for books and spent a lifetime collecting some 3,000 volumes. With the exception of Abigail's fictional works and a few that I shall reserve for my consolation in the few days that remain to me, he deeded his library, for public good, to the City of Quincy. After 75 years, and six different locations within Quincy, the library was transferred to the Boston Public Library in 1894, where it remains to this day in the Rare Book Collection.

John Adams actual law desk

The actual floor from the time the Adams built the Stone House

Painting of the signing of the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War between America and England.  It is "unfinished" becasue the English represetative signing refusd to pose for the painting.

John Adams

John Quincy Adams

Henry Adams

After returning to the Visitor's Center, we walked across the street to see the Hancock-Adams Common Park,

Refelction of the above fountain in a nearby building

Monument to Vietnam War POWs who were successfully repatriated in 1973

Quincy's Tricentennial (1625-1925) Sculpture

John Adams – taken by some friendly Quincy bicycle policemen

John Hancock

Hancock Cemetery,

Original burial site for John, Abigail and later John Quincy and Louisa Catherine

The person buried on the left lived to be ninety .. the one of the far right to just one year and six months.  Typical of the period when just a few lived to old age and so many died young

Old Town Hall,

and United First Parish Church, underneath which the crypts of John, Abigail, John Quincy and Louisa Cahtherine are located.

Reflections of the church's cupola

The pew owned by John Quincy Adams


Beneaath the church is the one-room crypt containg the final resting places of John and Abigail Adams and John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams.  In fact, the crypt was in place prior to the erection of the church above them. 

Did you notice anything unusual aabout the tombs?

That of John Adams contains 15-stars and 15-stripes … the number of states in the Union during his presidency

Whereas, by the time John Quincy served, there were 20 states and thus 24-stars, but the field of red and white had been resolved to reflect just the original colonie, therefore just 13-stripes


Back at our campground, its land having been owned by the same family since1759, Debbie made a new frined.


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