Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Revisiting The Past of John Adams

This past week I sat down to watch the HBO video on John Adams. I have to say I truly enjoyed the movie but it is indeed very long with seven parts on three disks. The story reveals so much about our history and the beginning of our country, the Declaration of Independence, and how our nation grew through turbulent times. All the leaders were depicted so accurately and I was sad to see it end.

The movie brought back memories of my visit to Massachusetts last year with Virginia Czaja, a friend and traveling companion. While visiting her daughter in New Hampshire, we drove over to Quincy, MA to take in the sights and one of them was a tour with scheduled stops at three of John Adams' homes. We were surprised that the tour cost is only $5 and people under 16 are free. A very unusual thing these days.

The first place was a Salt Box style home and the birthplace of John Adams. All the rooms were quite small and slightly bare. The second house across from the Salt Box house was a two-story home on a stone foundation. Here was the birth place of John Quincy Adams and his siblings. Now it is weather beaten, but still a delight to visit.
In 1788 when John Adams returned from Europe, he purchased this larger home called Peacefield, but was referred to by the family as "The Old House", where he and Abigail lived and raised their family. There were 40 acres of land and heirloom apple orchards that surrounded the area. In the back and on the side is an 18th century flower garden with herbs. The flowers were beautiful and I loved the way the vine arched over the entry way
The rooms are larger and more elegant then their second house. The furnishings are outstanding and the displays are breath taking as you wander from room to room. Many of the family artifacts are displayed and there are over 100,000 items to view. The paintings are very large and lovely.
Many of the future Adams family members were born here and John Adams entertained many heads of state in this house. After his father died, John Quincy Adams added on rooms to meet his family requirements.
His son, Charles Francis Adams improved on many of the Peacefield house facilities and then built his father a stand-along Gothic stone library that housed over 14,000 volume of books. The outside of the building is covered with vines and sits in the section of the flower garden. It looks small until you get inside. What a wonderful retreat.
Inside, the library is a beautiful piece of woodworking and is awe-inspiring. This two-story building with books on all four walls, top to bottom, had a tiled floor with one flaw that was purposely set. A wooden ladder extends out from the wall that moves on a rail around the room. A large table with chairs occupies the center of the room.
If you ever get a chance to visit Quincy, MA, the tour is well-worth the price to see the homes of John and Abigail Adams, our second president. Come visit Americana. Rent the movie JOHN ADAMS and relive the building of America. Pick up a book, read and enjoy.

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