A Virtual Tour of the Adams Mansion, Home to Two Presidents

U.S. National Archives

The Old House at Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, MA was home to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. This exhibit consists of historic photographs from the U.S. National Archives that show the house and surrounding grounds in the 1940s and 1970s. 

History of the Mansion
John Adams named the estate “Peace field” when he bought it in 1787. The original portion of the mansion was built in 1730 or 1731, but the Adams family made numerous additons to the house and grounds during the 140 years they lived there. Altogether, four generations of the Adams family lived in the home, through 1927.This exhibit shows how the Old House looked when it was donated to the National Park Service in 1946 (with one photo from 1951). There are also a few photos from 1970 and 1975 that were taken for the site's listing on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This street view from Google Maps shows how the front of the mansion looks today. Much of the estate's current appearance is due to John Quincy Adams' son Charles Francis Adams, an ambassador to Great Britain during the Civil War. He added the library, stone walls, a servant’s wing, greenhouse, and carriage house.

Today, the mansion is called the Old House, because the Adams National Historical Park now also includes the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, which are a few miles from the mansion and were acquired by the park around 1979.

Exterior Shots of the Mansion
Before his death in 1826, John Adams constructed a garden (seen in this picture), orchard, pond, and additions to both sides of the house. Shown here is the west wing, the first section of which was created by John Adams and the back portion of which was built by Charles Francis Adams in 1869.

The vine-covered portico where John Adams made his last public appearance in 1821 at age 86. He addressed 200 West Point Cadets who had marched 10 miles from Boston to honor him.

The front entrance gate to the Old House, designed by John Quincy Adams' grandson Brooks Adams in 1906.

Interior Shots of the Mansion
Shown here is the West Wall of the Long Room. Portraits are of (from left): Abigail Adams, John Adams, and John Quincy Adams, all painted by Copley. The furniture includes a “Louis XV sofa, used in France, Philadelphia, Washington, and Quincy," according to the original caption provided with the photo. On either side are "Louis XV chairs," used by women in hoop skirts. The small end tables were also French and belonged to Henry Adams.   

The center of the Long Room features a four-seated Ottoman.

Behind the Ottoman is a double Victorian chair with a built-in sewing box. On top of the post that adjoins the two seats is a pin cushion of red velvet with a thimble holder at the top.

The portrait in the corner is of Abigail Brooks Adams, wife of Charles Francis Adams.

On either side of the fireplace are "Louis XV chairs," according to the original caption provided with the photo.

On the mahogany stands on both sides of the fireplace are fire screens embroidered by Abigail Adams.

Over the fireplace is a portrait of General James Warren, President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and a Paymaster General for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

On the mantel is a French clock, a pair of Chinese vases, and matching candelabras.

The Long Hall in the Old House. Portrait on the left is of John Quincy Adams. Portrait at the end of the hall at far right is of John Adams.

The marble-topped table, of hand-carved mahogany, belonged to John Adams.

In the middle frame is a wreath presented to First Lady Louisa Adams (wife of John Quincy Adams) by girls of the Seminary for Female Education in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The bust to the left of the wreath is John Adams, and the bust at right is George Washington.

Portrait of John Quincy Adams by Marchant, hanging in the Long Hall.

Portrait of John Adams by Copley, displayed in the Long Hall.

Stone Library
John Quincy Adams requested in his will that a library be built on the grounds of the Old House. His son Charles Francis Adams fulfilled that wish, constructing Stone Library in 1870. The library holds more than 12,000 volumes of the Adams family's books, papers, and maps. 

Inside the Stone Library, built in 1870 by Charles Francis Adams. He and two of his sons, historians Henry and Brooks Adams (the last of the family to live at the estate), did much of their writing in the library.

The portrait on the balcony is of John Adams painted by W. Winstanley in 1798.

Old House Grounds

The Yorkist Rose tree was brought from England by Abigail Adams in 1788. It was originally planted under Long Room window, but Brooks Adams moved it to prevent it from dying for lack of sun.

The Carriage House, built by John Quincy Adams' son, Charles Francis Adams, in 1872 or 1873.

The pond and Carriage House, with the greenhouse in the background.

The side of the Carriage House, with the wood shed on the right. Charles Francis Adams moved the wood shed from a different location on the estate.

Railroad tracks from Quincy to Boston run alongside Newport Avenue across from the Carriage House and wood shed. The Old Colony Railroad initially built tracks here in 1844.

The wall surrounding Furnace Brook, with the side of the Carriage House at the far left and the greenhouse on the right with the library behind it. The wall, Carriage House, greenhouse, and library were all built by John Quincy Adams' son, Charles Francis Adams.

Streets Around the Mansion

Adams Street going east from the Old House toward Newport Avenue.

Adams Street in 1946, running southeast from the Old House.

The Old House and Stone Library as seen from the driveway across the street.

Credits: Story

Images: National Archives at Boston
Curator: Laurel Wilson

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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