Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Club Fieldtrip

On Monday, August 3 the George Hail Book Club (Books on Main) went on a field trip to the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, MA. The park tells the story of four generations of the Adams family (from 1720 to 1927) - including the birthplaces of the 2nd President, John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, who served as the 6th president of the United States.

This trip was prompted by the book, Assassination Vacation by SarahVowell, which the book club read in June. After reading about the historic sites associated with the first 3 Presidents to be assassinated (Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley), the book group members were inspired to visit the Adams homes in nearby Quincy.

I'm pleased to report that we all had a wonderful time touring the sites, talking to the the guide at the Church of the Presidents, and perusing the multitude of books available at the visitor's center.

The first stop on our tour was the Birthplace of John Adams. He was born in this house in 1735 to Deacon John Adams and his wife Susanna Boylston. The house itself was built ca. 1681.

John Adams Birthplace

John Adams lived in the house above until the death of his father in 1761. At that time he moved into the Belcher house (below) which his father had purchased in 1744. The Belcher house is situated a mere 75 yards from John Adams birthplace at it was here that he brought his bride, Abigail Adams, in 1764. It was also here that John and Abigail's first son, John Quincy Adams, was born in 1767.

=Belcher House, birthplace of John Quincy Adams

In 1788, John and Abigail Adams purchased the Vassall-Borland Estate and renamed it Peace field. It was here that four generations of the Adams family found refuge from public life. In 1946, Peace field was donated to the people of the United States under the stewardship of the National Park Service. This donation was made by the Memorial Society, consisting of members of the Adams Family. Because the house was donated by the Adams family, it remains as it was when the Adams family lived there. All the artifacts in the house are original to it and they all belonged to members of the Adams family - going all the way back to John and Abigail Adams. Fascinating!

Peace field

While the house itself was fascinating, the members of the book club were most impressed and excited by the The Stone Library that was built in 1870 by Charles Francis Adams, the son of John Quincy. Imagine having your own library building in your yard! Pure heaven. The Stone Library consists of 12,000 volumes collected by four generations of the Adams family. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside the library, but believe me when I say it was gorgeous and stately.

The Stone Library

No trip to a library by a group of bookworms would be complete with a picture of said bookworms in front of the library. Here we are in front of The Stone Library. Don't we all look excited?

Karen, Barbara, Jean, Jane and Me

The last site we visited was The Church of the Presidents. This church was built to replace the Hancock Meeting House, where John and Abigail Adams worshipped. John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa did worship in The Church of the Presidents and John Quincy's funeral was held here. The church is also the burial place of John and John Quincy Adams and their wives Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams.

The Church of the Presidents

Needless to say we had a wonderful day. It was such a success there is some talk about the possibility of planning future field trip. Are you interested? We are always happy to welcome new members to Books on Main. Please join us. You don't want to miss out on all the fun, do you? Our next meeting is August 26 at 6:30 pm. Hope to see you there!

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