The John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplaces are the oldest presidential birthplaces in the United States. In 1735, John Adams was born in the "salt box" house located only 75 feet away from the birthplace of his son John Quincy Adams. In the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, young John and his bride Abigail started their family and the future President launched his career in politics and law. John Adams maintained his law office in the house and it was here that he, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin wrote the Massachusetts Constitution. This document, still in use today, greatly influenced development of the United States Constitution.
The Old House at Peace field, built in 1731, became the residence of the Adams family for four generations from 1788 to 1927. It was home to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams; First Ladies Abigail and Louisa Catherine Adams; Civil War Minister to Great Britain Charles Francis Adams; and literary historians Henry and Brooks Adams. The vast collection of original artifacts inside the Old House greatly assists the park's interpretive staff to relate the Adams family's legacy of service to their nation. Adjacent to the house is the Stone Library, built in 1873, it contains more than 12,000 books that belonged to the Adamses. Following a tour, you may wish to stroll the Old House grounds which include a historic orchard and an 18th-century style formal garden, containing thousands of annual and perennial flowers.
The Stone Library is home to over 12,000 volumes, reflecting the literary tastes and interests of four generations of Adams men and women, beginning with John Adams in 1768. Today, about 10% of the books belonged to the second U.S. President, John Adams. the greater part of the remainder belonged to his son, sixth U.S. President, John Quincy Adams. In his will, John Quincy Adams requested that a fireproof structure be constructed separate from the house for the proper use of his books, papers and maps. In 1870, his son, Charles Francis Adams succeeded in fulfilling his father's wishes with the construction of the medieval style Stone Library. His sons and grandsons all used the library for writing. Charles Francis Adams worked on the ten volume, Diary of John Adams, the twelve volume, The Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, and The Letters of Abigail Adams. His son, Henry Adams worked on his, History of the United States, writing to friend John Hay, I write history as though it were serious, five hours a day; and when my hand and head get tired, I step out in the rose-beds and watch my favorite roses...
The John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library
John Adams had a life long passion for books and spent a lifetime collecting some 3,000 volumes. With the exception of Abigail's fictional works and a few that I shall reserve for my consolation in the few days that remain to me, he deeded his library, for public good, to the City of Quincy. After 75 years, and six different locations within Quincy, the library was transferred to the Boston Public Library in 1894, where it remains to this day in the Rare Books Collection.
For questions regarding the library collection in the Stone Library, contact Adams National Historical Park at ADAM_Visitor_Center@nps.gov.
Last updated: September 11, 2022