Visiting the John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplaces in Quincy, Massachusetts
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.— John Adams
I became hooked on learning as much as I could about the Adams family (no, not that one) after reading John Adams (and later watching the series by the same name). I knew that I would have to visit John Adams' and John Quincy Adams' birthplaces on my planned trip to the Boston area.
If you are interested in history or visiting Presidential homes, the Adams' birthplaces should be on your list of places to visit.
John Adams' Birthplace
The first stop on the tour is the place where John Adams was born. After disembarking from the shuttle, we were met by our tour guide, who took us through both birthplaces. From the outside, the John Adams birthplace was less modern than the house next door. The highlight of this house for me was the large fireplace and the portraits on the wall.
We weren't able to go upstairs, but that was fine because it is nice to keep a little mystery about these famous homes. Inside, we learned about John Adams and his early life as a scholar.
John Quincy Adams' Birthplace
Next, we took a short walk to the place where John Quincy Adams was born. When John and Abigail Adams lived in this house, they rented out the house where John was born. This is where the Adams family lived during the Revolutionary War, so the tour guide had many interesting stories of what the family was up to during this period of time.
The highlight for me was the desk where Abigail Adams wrote her famous letters to her husband during their many separations. Abigail spent a lot of time here away from her husband, raising her kids and taking care of the farm. This is why I admire her so much; she was a tough lady to go through all of the things she did.
The Old House at Peacefield
After a short shuttle ride, our group arrived at the Old House at Peacefield. This is the house that John and Abigail Adams moved into after they moved on up like George and Louise Jefferson. (Cue The Jeffersons' theme song!) A different tour guide met us here and he, like the other guide was very knowledgeable and well spoken. At the time of our tour, he was working on his PhD in history with an emphasis in John Quincy Adams. To make a long story short, he knew his stuff.
From what our tour guide said, I took it that Abigail was tired of living in a hovel; she wanted to live like they did in Europe, so they moved into this very modern-looking home. This is the house where John Adams died at the age of 90. The place was beautiful and the decor was very fancy. This is where generations of Adams lived, so some of the house had been remodeled with modern appliances like toilets and bathtubs.
The Stone Library and Garden
This was my favorite part of the whole tour. If I win the lottery, I would love to build a library like this in my backyard. It was so beautiful and calming to be around all of those books. Unfortunately, I couldn't crack any of them open, but once I build my own library I will have free rein to do what I want. Of course, I will probably have to win a very large cash prize because this library was well built and fireproof, so it probably was not cheap!
John Adams' desk that he did all of his important work on was housed inside the library. Also, an unfinished portrait and a ton of books. According to our tour guide, there are over 12,000 books inside this library including a copy of The Book of Mormon that was signed by Joseph Smith. The Stone Library is a must see for any book lover or book-loving Mormon. This made me love the Adams family even more since they were book lovers like me.
What's So Interesting About John Adams?
I first became interested in John Adams when my husband got bitten by a dog. After my husband got bit by the neighbor's tiny but vicious dog, we rushed to the emergency room and the doctor there was very chatty. For some reason, we started talking about a miniseries he watched about John Adams. He was talking about a part where John Adams' daughter had to have surgery without anesthesia. Well, my attention was grabbed, so the next day I did a little research and it led me to read the book the miniseries was based on.
The book was John Adams by David McCullough. The book is long and very detailed, but it is also entertaining—so entertaining that the book was turned into the aforementioned miniseries some time ago starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. After reading the book, I watched the miniseries and it was also excellent.
I learned through the book and miniseries that John Adams really doesn't get enough credit for all of the things he did for the development of the United States as a country. He spent several years at a time away from his wife and kids representing the colonies in Europe. He also wrote the Massachusetts Constitution that is still in use, which makes it the oldest living constitution in the world.
Above all this, he was quite a character. He was known to speak his mind and mince no words when giving his opinion. He loved reading and education and worked to make sure all Americans could have access to it. I like him so much because even if his views made him unpopular (like defending the British during the Boston Massacre Trial) he still stood by what he thought was the right.
All of this reading about John Adams led me to read John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger. John Quincy Adams also had an amazing life. He was very well traveled and he spent much time living overseas like his father did. John Quincy Adams wasn't without controversy. While he was a Minister to Russia one of his female relatives got a little too cozy with Tsar Alexander I. And you thought history was boring!
Where to Start Your Tour
How to Get There
Getting there was very confusing for us hillbilly country bumpkins. We thought we would put in John Adams House into Google Maps and that would be that. With great difficulty, we were able to find a parking spot only to discover we had to go somewhere else entirely to buy tickets and start our tour. So, don't make the same mistake we did.
First, make sure to start at the Visitor Center to get your tickets and get on the shuttle. You can park at the President's Place Parking Garage that is nearby. There is a gift shop and a movie that plays while you wait for your tour to start.
Note: Use the restroom before you leave the Visitor Center since there aren't any loos at any of the houses for public use.
Have you been to Adams Historical Park? Do you plan on going? Have you ever visited a famous residence and want to recommend it to us? Please let me know in the comments, and thank you so much for reading this article!
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© 2019 Brandy McGhee Nelson