Northeast Region: Peace field, Adams National Historical Park

Nature and Nation: Landscape Painting of Godfrey Frankenstein

Godfrey Frankenstein (1820-73) was a German-born painter who emigrated to Ohio as a child. He followed the artistic character of his family, who was part of a group of German immigrant artists. Frankenstein became the first president of the Cincinnati Academy of Arts in 1841 and gained notoriety for his landscape painting, particularly his depictions of Niagara Falls.

Portrait of the Old House in 1849 is on display in the Old House at Adams National Historical Park, opposite his 1849 Birthplaces of the Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Frankenstein is also known for his panoramic perspective and often combined spectacular scenery with nationalistic sentiment, as is seen here in the sweeping view of the presidential home.

These landscape paintings, commissioned by John Quincy's son Charles Francis Adams, are perhaps the best documentation of the landscape's appearance during that time.

A painting of a two-story house, bordered by white fence, trees, and a road.
Portrait of the Old House in 1849

By Godfrey N. Frankenstein, Adams National Historical Park museum collection (ADAM 8451)

Quick Facts

The Old House at Peace Field

Godfrey Frankenstein's oil painting of the Old House in Quincy, Massachusetts captures the appearance of the presidential home, outbuildings, and landscape at mid-century, a year after the death of the sixth president of the United States John Quincy Adams. The Old House was built in 1731, and the property was home to four generations of the Adams family from 1787 to 1927.

Site plan of the landscape with a red arrow showing the painter's position.
The red arrow on the Peace field site plan indicates the painter's approximate position.

NPS (Cultural Landscape Inventory park report, 2012)

Contemporary image of the Old House, a two-story home with many windows.
Contemporary view of the Old House, now part of Adams National Historical Park.


During the 140 years of Adams family ownership, the site evolved from a working farm of cultivated fields, fruit orchards, meadows, marshlands, and woodlands to a country estate with ornamental plantings, manicured lawns, and clusters of shade trees.

Charles Francis Adams inherited the properties when his father, John Quincy, died in 1848. He and his wife Abigail made improvements to the Old House, including a large addition in 1869 and construction of the first memorial presidential library a year later. Other changes transformed the property from a working farm into a shady country estate, which they continued to use as a summer home.

Today, nearly fourteen acres of the Adams' property in Quincy are preserved by the National Park Service as Adams National Historical Park.

A painting of the Adams Birthplaces (ADAM )
Birthplaces of the Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

Godfrey Frankenstein, 1849 [ADAM 1307]

Quick Facts

The Adams Birthplaces

A contemporary photo of the two houses that are the Adams Birthplaces.
Contemporary view of the Adams Birthplaces in Quincy.


The birthplace homes of two U.S. Presidents stand on neighboring lots in the city of Quincy, Massachusetts, about eight miles south of Boston. One is the birthplace of John Adams, second U.S. President, born on October 30, 1735. Beside it stands the house where his son and the sixth U.S. President, John Quincy Adams, was born on July 11, 1767.

The properties were once part of a larger farmstead area, with the north lawn area most likely containing sheds and barns as well as vegetable or fruit trees. The parcels are now bounded by split-rail fences and a stone wall. The wall was initially built in 1896 by the Quincy Historical Society as part of a plan to protect the homes and open them for public tours.

Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams maintained life-long connections with the farm and birthplace homes. The younger Adams purchased the farm from his father in 1803, which at that time consisted of about one hundred acres of land, three houses, three barns, five woodlots, two pasture lots, and a salt marsh.

The Birthplace Homes are about a mile and a half south of the estate at Peace field. Both former presidents and their wives are buried in the Adams family crypt midway between the two properties.

The City of Quincy acquired the birthplaces in 1940, maintaining the property while local organizations managed public programs. The National Park Service received the birthplace properties in 1979. The agency had been managing the Peace field property since 1946. Together, these properties are part of Adams National Historical Park, which aims to preserve and protect the landscapes, homes, and personal property of four generations of the Adams family.

Red arrow on a site plan shows the approximate view of the painter.
The arrow on this site plan of the Adams Birthplace landscape shows the approximate perspective of the painting.

NPS/Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (Cultural Landscape Report, 2014)

Last updated: June 28, 2018