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The Adams Family

I have wanted to visit the Adams National Historical Park ever since the HBO miniseries on John Adams aired.  It’s only about 30 minutes from our home and last Saturday Dale and I finally went. We were not disappointed – it was a wonderful day.

The attraction has gotten quite popular since David McCullough’s book.  In fact, the tour guide told us that in the year prior to the book’s release the park had about 40,000 visitors total.  Since the book has been published that number has increased to over 200,000 visitors per year.

abigail and john quincy statue

Of course, this rise in numbers means that you have to wait a bit to be included in a tour.  Our wait actually turned out to be a great thing because it meant we had time to tour the United First Parish Church.  This is the church where John and Abigail Adams were married.  It’s also where John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their wives Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams are buried.  This statue of Abigail Adams and young John Quincy Adams is right outside the church.

church ceiling

Our guide in the church told us that the building is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival Architecture in New England.

gate to john adams tomb

And then she took us downstairs.  Looking through this gate you can see the tombs of the presidents and first ladies.

john and abigail tombs

We thought that was all we would see but then the tour guide opened the gate and we all stepped inside the tomb.  It was quite awe inspiring to be in this space with the remains of two of our country’s presidents and their wives – one of whom I consider to be perhaps our first feminist.

john quincy adams tomb

The tombs of the presidents are each covered in a flag and the tombs of the first ladies are each adorned with a wreath from the Abigail Adams Historical Society.

I have to tell you, I never expected to see this and I will never forget it.

john adams house

The rest of the day included tours of the original home of John Adams, seen in this photo.  We also toured the home of John Quincy Adams, and the estate of John and Abigail, known as Peacefield.  Photography isn’t allowed inside these buildings but I did take some pictures of the gardens at Peacefield.  They are ablaze with zinnias and cosmos right now and I just love how colorful it all is.

gardens at peacefield wider shot

gardens at peacefield

I’m so glad that John Adams and John Quincy Adams have not been forgotten.  Their contributions to and sacrifices for our country should be honored by every generation.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. I was very taken with Abigail in the mini-series as well. Such strength of character. I wish I had an ounce of her gumption. I really shouldn’t put off visiting Quincy any longer.

  2. I didn’t read the book, but husband devoured it. I did really enjoy the HBO special. We’d love a visit to this institution. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I never made it there while living in the Boston area. Now I’ll have to add the Adams NHP to the ever-growing list of New England attractions the kids (and I) must see. Thanks for sharing your visit, Carole!

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. Being a west-coaster, I will probably have to wait until I’m retired to visit the historical east. How fortunate you are to live so close to our nation’s beginning.

  5. I’ve sent your link on to our DD, who is also a John Adams fan.

    She worked one summer as a park ranger in Concord, MA, giving tours at the Nathanial Hawthorne/Alcott home (they owned it sequentially). She was extremely honored as a college student to be allowed to give tours (summer rangers normally weren’t allowed to, but she was an English major). The house is part of the park that commemorates Paul Reverse’s ride. You would enjoy that day trip, too.

  6. The park I worked for, to which Barbara-Kay refers, actually commemerates the Battle at Old North Bridge (the “shot heard round the world”), although she is right that I spent the bulk of my time there giving tours of the Wayside, the Alcott/Hawthorne/Sidney home.

    Coincdentally, I did get to see Paul Revere’s home while I was in the area.

    Here are links to both the Wayside and Minuteman NHP, where I worked.

    Wow, the Adams’ houses are beautiful, and getting to see the church was a wonderful bonus. What lovely pictures!

  7. That looks like a really cool place to visit. I will have to add it to my list of places to go someday. I’ve always been a fan of Abigail Adams. Ever since the first time I watched 1776. 🙂

  8. You have so many of these wonderful historic sites in New England. My family visited many of them on summer vacations when I was a child. I wonder if we ever went to the Adams National Historic Park.

  9. I always enjoy your mini history tours. So much to see, and so little time when you live waaaaaay out West. But I keep adding your ideas to my “Things To See’ list.

  10. I went to the Adams Historic site last year with my son’s class and it was great. I have been meaning to return to see more, as there wasn’t enough time! Did you ever see “The Adams Chronicles” on PBS years ago (80s, I think)? It was a great dramatization of the lives of John, JQ and Henry Adams and families.

  11. We really enjoyed watching the HBO series as a family and I’d love to see the house etc someday. Coincidentally, they played the music from the series the other night at the game and the girls recognized it immediately.

  12. I haven’t watched that series yet… will have to make sure I do that soon!! Thank you so much for sharing your visit. Very fun!

  13. Wow, what an awesome place. Like you, I expect presidential tombs to be very inaccessible to the public. How neat that you were allowed to see those “up close.”

  14. It must be, what, about an hour and a half from us? Time to plan a family outing. Great photos!

    No word from zeneedle yet. My thoughts are there too.

  15. I loved the book, which makes it even worst that I’ve never visited these places and I live about 5 minutes from them. Thanks for reminding me that I need to go check them out!

  16. I love all your posts but this one is special to me because I am distantly related to Abigail Adams. I would have loved meeting her, you are right she was outspoken for women’s rights. Your photos are wonderful, I have got to get to New England soon.

  17. I visited these places when I was 12 (46 years ago) and on a trip to Boston to stay with a cousin for a week. I still remember many details of the homes and especially the tombs and am glad to see that they are still accessible and haven’t been locked behind a fence or gate.

  18. I love all these great historical places you go. As a west coaster… those things are not quite so plentiful around here. It’s fun to see them here on your blog now and then.

  19. So COOL. I’ve never actually been there myself. The last time I was in the area was about 15 years ago on a Sunday and they were closed. I was so disappointed! it sounds wonderfully delicious in a historical-groupie kind of way. I’m jealous.

  20. I have loved John and Abigail since I read a book about them as a kid. I enjoyed the miniseries.

    Have you ever read “The Five of Hearts”? It has Henry Adams as one of the main characters, and is a fascinating look at a later time in American history.

  21. Carole

    I am grieving the loss of my beloved dog. So you have to forgive me but when I saw the title I started singing”

    The Adams family started
    when uncle Fester farted….

    you know the rest!

  22. I hadn’t heard of the mini series, but thank you for the tour!

    I agree with you about Abigail Adams. Our Abigail cat is named for her – we also have a John Quincy (he was a stray that lived in our garage for a while, but he was so fabulous that he moved to the vet).

  23. I really enjoyed your review! You got some great photos.

    Emma did a report on Abigail Adams several years ago. I learned what a great lady she was! She seems like the type of person I’d like to get to know.

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