Monday, June 1, 2015

Peace Field Homes of the Adams

The 2nd President of the United States John Adams (also the first vice president) and his wife Abigail lived in this home.

 In fact the 6th President of the United States John Quincy Adams also called this structure home. John Quincy Adams was a man who was surely groomed from a young age to become the leader of our country. His mother Abigail Adams was a determined woman to say the least. Just as the old adage goes, Abigail was the great woman behind both men, her husband and her son.

The house originally was quite smaller. Built in 1731.  The additions over time turned the home into quite an interesting series of rooms and hallways. In this photograph you can see the brick structure of the house as it existed when John and Abigail purchased the home in 1787 and also visible are the additions, several were done by the family over the years. The purchase of the home was made sight unseen, as the Adams were in England at the time. Upon their arrival home Abigail was displeased with the house. The ceilings were too low. Having been spoiled by the grand architecture abroad she sought to have the ceilings raised. This was an impossible feat so instead this crafty lady had the floor lowered. A problem solver she was. The family remained in the home for many generations until 1946 when the home was given to the United States by the Adams family.
Check out the abundant Wisteria growing on many areas of the home. The sweet smell of blooms filled the air during our brief visit. Mixed with the scent of Lilac. The Lilac bushes were in full bloom as well. Actually the smell of the Wisteria to me is one of a smokey lilac scent.

As we arrived by trolley, transportation  provided by the National Historical Park Service, I noted the lush peaceful feel of the tree canopies first.
Speaking of trees, being the geek that I am, I was thrilled to photograph and see this tree in the photo below. A rare Yellowwood Tree which was planted by John Adams. His interest in gardening and composting must have been an experience he shared with other men of his times. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were superior gardener/farmers.

Our tour guide was well versed and offered many interesting facts. She answered questions with cheer and shared the story of how John Adams in his green thumb enthusiasm had started  his plants in Abigail's Waterford Crystal bowls. On display in the home is one such bowl. It sits there mocking with a crack caused by a tree root. A tree started in the bowl. I'm certain this must have made Abigail fume.

More time wandering around the grounds at Peace Field would have been nice. Sometimes when I'm a weary traveler in a robotic like state I just follow the tour guide and soak in the quid pro quo, taking the nickle tour without venturing off and exploring on my own. Still it's amazing to know this tree has stood the hands of time and appears to be thriving with the help of a crutch. Even from a distance it was a crown jewel.
Another area I would have happily lollygagged about was the library. A seperate building
on the grounds which houses over 14,000 books, books once belonging to both Presidents and their family. How sad that photographs are not allowed inside of the buildings. I understand why. The very selfish side of me wanted to have my own images of the visit. My interpretation of the area. My time spent there. Captured through my photography. Alas, this is the best I have to offer. Exterior photographs of the fantastic place which houses marvelous things.

Oh how I would love to provide you with visuals of the 8,000 original items in the home. Items that once belonged to this under appreciated and fascinating family. Of note to me particularly were the plates and dishware on display. As I stood there admiring them, it was intriguing to know, right there... in front of me...  were the very plates these patriots ate their meals from. It was of great note to know Abigail survived, fed her family, and helped to run the family farm from the money she earned selling dishware. John Adams would ship the dishes to her from overseas and she would sell them to the farmers wives and folks in her quaint area. Abigail persevered despite the grief in her life from the death of her children, long separations from her husband, famines and disease. Among the original items in the home is also an afghan hand knitted by none other than Abigail Adams herself. It's a lovely white throw which makes up a bed in the upstairs bedroom. Almost within reach, but of course, one wouldn't dare touch it. The pattern was of a close, tight knit and looked complicated. Sorry folks no photo. The afghan exists there though, trust me. Go see for yourself. I could go on and on and tell you of the desk belonging to John Adams, the elaborate bell system rigged up through up the home to summon the Irish maids and servants to various rooms. I will go back one day and allow myself to soak in different aspects of this detailed place.

Just as I found Lucy Hayes and Mamie Eisenhower to be of great interest while touring their presidential homes, Abigail Adams with her great strength and determination was of equal fascination as I wandered about Peace Field in Quincy, Massachusetts.

One by one, I hope to tour at least the library or the home of every U.S. President. The Adams homes, gardens, and library offered a unique proposition in that I would be able to place a check mark beside two Presidents names as having seen their domiciles. As John Adams and John Quincy Adams both resided in the same place. The park rangers do a great job on the tour. I believe in the short time period allowed for each tour the information was as detailed as possible. Yet, it was a bit like trying to celebrate two of your children's birthdays in the same afternoon. Neither President seemed to have their glory moment along the tour. I found myself bouncing from persona to persona trying to decipher who the guide was referring to.

Our tour began at the birthplace of John Adams. Pictured below. John was born in the upstairs right hand window. The interior of the home is what I've come to expect. Bare, simple, basic things. A fireplace for warmth and cooking. A desk, a chair. Sparse to say the least. The birthplace home is in need of restoration. The home is only about 20 percent of the original building although as renovations have taken place over the years, proper time period materials have been used. This portion of the tour was brief and is in a different section of town than the house at Peace Field (also referred to as the Old House)

As the visitor is looking at this home, one needs to merely turn around and there stands behind the visitor the birth place of John Quincy Adams home. Pictured below.

It was here that John Adams with the help his wife, truly launched his career as an attorney. His children were born in this house, his wife labored and toil and kept the home fires burning as he spent most of his days and nights in the city of Boston.

We know the stories of our country, the war, the documents, the meetings and the men. As I visit these presidential houses each time without fail the story left with me is one of home. Just like my home. The meals and how they are prepared. The gardens, flowers, and certainly their ideas of entertainment.

Find out if the National Historical Park Service has a Presidential home or library near you. It's worth the drive.  A true feeling of our history can be felt and understood on a deeper level with one step onto the property of these great leaders. Despite your politics there's no denying the level of hard work which surely merits respect for the title and office and President of the United States.

Get on the Bus Gus....


  1. "So you went ovah to Quinzeee?"
    Sometimes I miss Massachusetts. Not a lot, but sometimes.

    Did you make it to the Kennedy library in Dorchester? I think JFK's birthplace is up in Brookline, but I can't remember if you can tour the house or not.

    We're going back to Kansas this summer so Danny can visit the Eisenhower birthplace and library. I was there about 15 years ago, and it was scary how much his mother's house resembled ours (typical turn-of-the-century farmhouse, I guess). Throw in my love of antiques, and the furnishings were similar as well.

    I also love a good presidential library/birthplace/home. I'd like to get back to Mount Vernon at some point to really appreciate it as an adult rather than a child on a junior high class trip.

    Nice to see a photo of you!

    1. It was a quick exhausting weekend trip. We didn't make it to JFK's place, it was closed until May 25th so we were too early for that. Next time.
      I think the Eisenhower home in Gettysburg is one of my favorite places. Mount Vernon and Monticello are so formal and wonderful but, Ike and Mamie's place feels like a home.
      Yeah, I slipped of photo of me in there. What the heck. I admire you ladies who post your photos in all of the fabulous outfits. I'll never have that much commitment to sharing of myself. Just shy I guess. LOL