Out on the Town: The Adams National Historical Park

Boston has very close ties to colonial and revolutionary history, as well as a host of institutions dedicated to its preservation. For a notable example, the various homes where former presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams lived are still standing in Quincy, Mass. The Adams National Historical Park, which maintains the homes, offers very informative guided tours to anyone interested. Coming from New Mexico, I always felt disconnected from the colonial and revolutionary history that was crammed into my brain since childhood. I saw the tour as a good opportunity to connect with that history, so I grabbed my CharlieCard and headed for Quincy.

Getting to the Adams National Historical Park requires no transfers: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Red Line can get you all the way there. From Davis, I boarded the Braintree train and rode 14 stops to the Quincy Center stop. It is important not to board the Ashmont train, since the Red Line splits in two after JFK/UMass, and the Ashmont train goes in a different direction from Quincy Center. Once there, the visitor’s center is directly across the street from the MBTA station.

Guided tours are available inside the visitor center. Tours are $5 for adults and free for students, so bringing your Tufts ID makes the whole trip very inexpensive. There’s a bunch of United States memorabilia in the visitor’s center if you’re feeling especially patriotic, as well as books about 18th century American history if you’d like to learn more. After a few minutes of loitering in the lobby, the tour guide rounded up the other tourists and me, and we started the tour.

The tour began with a streetcar ride through Quincy, to John Quincy Adams’ childhood home. The ride was entertaining on its own: I was already having a good time. Upon exiting the ride, I was greeted with a large wooden home. The tour guide gave some brief context about the homestead’s proximity to Boston and the Revolutionary War. We then took a brief look inside the house, pausing in each room to learn about how Adams spent his time there. The guide was very knowledgeable and took questions from tourists before moving from one room to the next. Tourists are encouraged not to touch anything or to sit in any of the furniture in the rooms. Fortunately, however, folding chairs are ready and accessible for those with disabilities or those who simply would prefer to sit.

After a tour of Adams’ childhood home, we boarded the streetcar once again, where we were whisked away to Adams’ presidential estate on the opposite side of town. There, we bore witness to the historic Stone Library, as well as Adams’ bourgeois backyard and furnishings. For this leg of the trip, we had a different tour guide, and they, too, were knowledgeable and open to questions. I felt personally catered to whenever I asked a question, making my experience all the more enjoyable.

Overall, the Adams National Historical Park is an easy and inexpensive way to learn about John Quincy Adams and his place in history. I recommend checking it out.