A diary of my visit to two cities in the center of the founding of my country: Boston and Philadelphia Oct. 14 - 24, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

October 16, 2005 – "The Adams Family" or "graves, graves and more graves"

Did I say something about 18,000 steps today? Make that 22,276 steps. That works out to be a little over 9 miles. My feet are feeling pretty sore. So sore, I might take a break from this blog to take a hot shower.

Thankfully, the rain was gone today. I walked out of the building to sunshine!! I felt like singing….Oh what a beautiful mooooorning…you get the picture. My plan for the first half of the day was to visit Quincy, the place where John Adams is from. Truthfully, John Adams was the biggest draw to Boston for me. He is quickly becoming my favorite US President. He is certainly one of the most underrated Presidents.

It took about 45 minutes to get to Quincy. Quincy is a little town just East of Boston. It is at the end of the T, thankfully, so I didn’t have to drive or be creative with transportation in order to get there. I arrived promptly at 9:01, just in time for the first Adams tour of the day at 9:15. (See, all of you cynics of organization??? It pays off!) I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was the only person on the tour!!! It was by far one of the best tours I have ever been on. Of course, part of that is because I have so much respect for the Adams family. Anyway, the tour takes you to three houses related to the Adams. The first house is where John Adams was born and grew up. It is the oldest birthplace of a President still standing. The house is modest, as most houses were in the 1600’s. It was larger than most, as John Adams Senior was very active in society and hosted many political and religious events in his home. He owned 25 chairs….way more than was normal in those days.

After John Adams married Abigail, they moved to a house next door, given to them by John Adams Sr. It was small also, but John had built several “state-of-the-art” features, such as a brick oven next to the fireplace instead of inside it. This house is where John Quincy Adams was born. John Adams also had a room that served as his office. It was in that room that he had his first law cases, including the defending of a British soldier involved in the Boston Massacre. He and Abigail suffered much criticism over that case, but he insisted on defending the soldier. He wanted the world to see America as a country mature enough to follow the letter of the law without letting anger and emotions interfere. In this room is also where John Adams drafted the Constitution of Massachusetts. This Constitution became a model for the United States Constitution. In fact, our Bill of Rights are worded almost exactly as the first section of the Constitution of Massachusetts.

After seeing the two small houses, the tour takes a ride to the big house. This is the House where the Adams lived during John Adams’ presidency and retirement. John and Abigail both died in the house. The bed where Abigail died, the chair where John died, and the bed where their daughter Abigail died of breast cancer are all in the house. The house is full of furniture and other items belonging to the Adams. In fact, there are no replicas in the house…everything is original. It is amazing to walk through and see everything from so many generations. (The Adams owned and used the house until the early 1900’s, when it was donated to the United States). The tour guide was great. He knew so much about all of the pieces in the house, and of course I had the opportunity to ask many questions since I was the only one on the tour! The tour lasted about an hour, and included rooms on the first and second floors of the house. I’m not even going to start talking about all of the things I saw, because I do need a little sleep tonight. The tour also included a tour of the library that John Quincy built next to the house, after he lost half of his book collection in a fire. The library is made of stone. It currently has about 14,000 books, although only about 7,000 of them belonged to John Quincy.

Afterwards, the guide let me wander around the grounds to take pictures. Abigail brought many plants over from Europe with her, including several lilac bushes and a rose bush that are still in the garden. I have a bunch of great pictures. I’ll try to post some, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to with this Internet connection. (And, I’m not about to walk another 1,000 steps tonight to find wireless, so don’t even think about suggesting it.)

The tour was wonderful. I can’t say enough about the tour guides. The lady at the two small houses and the man at the big house were very knowledgeable and passionate about history. They did a great job, especially since I was the only one on the tour!!! I think it will remain the highlight of the trip.

After the official tour, I walked around the town of Quincy. The Hancock cemetery is there, which is the place where John Hancock is not buried. (gotcha). He is actually buried in the Granary Burial Ground in Boston, which I visited later. Anyway, I walked around the cemetery for a while. Call me strange, but I enjoy walking around cemeteries. It is fascinating to read the inscriptions honoring so many honorable people. They had American flags next to all who had fought in wars (mostly the War of Independence and the War of 1812).

I walked around for a while, past some churches and a great library. Well the building was great. It was closed so I couldn’t see inside. There is a lot of neat architecture in Quincy. The last place I visited in Quincy was the church where the Adams are buried. John Adams was instrumental in building this particular church, but he died a couple years before it was finished. After it was completed, John Quincy requested that his parents be moved to a crypt below the church. They were, and after John Quincy died, his son requested that he be moved to the crypt below the church. So, both Presidents, father and son, are buried below the church along with their wives. I was able to see the crypts. The rest of the church tour was good, but not fascinating.

After all of this, it was about 1:00. I stopped by a coffee shop to get a cup of coffee and scone and boarded the train. I figured I could afford to stop and purchase the snack since I wouldn’t waste any time eating it. I had a 30 minute ride back in to Boston, so I wanted to make it productive. Thanks to planning, I knew that I had to be on Beacon Hill at the Harrison Otis Gray house by 2:00 for a tour. I studied the map on the Train, and miraculously turned in the right direction out of the T station in Boston. It was about a half-mile walk to the house, and I found it right at 1:50. Perfect.

The Otis’s were friends of the Adams. They were one of the most wealthy families of Boston, and their house it an example of the federal era of design. I like it. It is very symmetrical. They even have false doors in some of the rooms to preserve symmetry. That’s my kind of house.

After the tour, I walked around Beacon Hill for a while. I took some pictures, hopefully not of John Kerry’s house. I didn’t have anything else planned and it was only 2:45, so I decided to walk around the historical areas and see whatever was around. I walked past the State Capitol, which I will tour tomorrow. I then walked past the Old Granary Burial ground and decided to go ahead and do that, since it is early on my list for tomorrow. It is a good thing, because I had a little under an hour schedule for it tomorrow, and it took me an hour and a half to go through it this afternoon. What a graveyard. The Burial grounds contain graves of Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, Paul Revere, Peter Faneuil, the victims of the Boston Massacre, John Hancock, and others. I repeat, what a graveyard.

After the Old Granary Burial ground, I walked down the street to the King’s Chapel Burial ground. This is where Gov. John Winthrop is buried, and William Dawes, the other man who rode to Lexington to warn that the British were coming.

By the time I finished there, it was almost five. I walked over to Quincy Market to do some shopping, since they stay open until 6:00. By then, I was pretty worn out, so I decided to go back to my little Inn for the night. I already had decided that picking up my laptop and finding wireless was out of the picture. My feet hurt.

So, here is where the adventure begins. I got on the T and decided to get off two stops early (near Fenway Park). I knew it was a busy place, so I figured I could walk toward where I was staying, find somewhere to eat along the way, and then be close to “home.” Well, I walked out of the T stop, and the restaurants were closing. So I started walking “toward” my little inn. About 20 minutes later, I was not seeing any familiar streets, or any eating establishments other than noisy bars and really nice restaurants (the kind you DON’T walk in wearing jeans and carrying two cameras around your neck). I stopped at a little store to get some help. I’m getting really good at stopping at little stores to get some help. Well, he points out that I am really near the Prudential Center, which apparently has a variety of restaurants. I look at the map….hmmmm….the Prudential Center. That is not near where I’m staying. That is in the OPPOSITE direction from where I am staying. I went the wrong way!! (I know, I know, nobody is surprised at that. See, I’m handicapped. I HAVE to plan meticulously, because it is guaranteed that I am going to pick the wrong direction 80% of the time and lose time). So, I took his recommendation and went to the Prudential Center. It wasn’t part of my plan, but it was good.

By this time, I was pretty much famished. I had made it from 8 – 6 with one small snack and one bathroom stop. I needed some nourishment. And, I’m not talking about “soup and salad” nourishment. I’m talking about meat and carbs. I found it at the Prudential Center. I stopped at a rotisserie p[lace and had ¼ of a chicken, mashed potatoes and yams. Mmmmmm. I ate it ALL. In all honesty, I’m still kind of hungry. It’s 10:00 though. I’ll have to actually have some breakfast in the morning.

After eating at the Prudential, I decided I should go up to the top, since I was there anyway. It would have been neat to see during the day, since it is the tallest building in Boston and you can see New Hampshire and Cape Cod during the day. I won’t have time tomorrow though, so I went ahead and went tonight. It was beautiful, looking over all of the areas of Boston. Even though it was night, I could still see the Charles River pretty well, and of course the lights of Boston are gorgeous. It was worth getting lost for.

The adventure isn’t over yet, though. I walked out of the Prudential Center, aching, and determined to get to the nearest T stop in as few steps as possible. I found it on the map, double checked the map at every intersection to make sure I was going in the right direction, and found the T stop. Hmmmm. Well, I found the place on the map that indicated a T station. I couldn’t find the station though. Darn it!!! Where is that station!! I stood on the corner, looked at the corner, looked at the map, and it wasn’t there. I walked into the store on the corner where the T was supposed to be and….you guessed it!!! Asked for help again! The kind guy politely informed me that the T station was BELOW the building. Oh, I see. That would make sense. The T is underground. Ok, so I went around the block and walked down the POORLY marked stairs to the T and arrived in my little inn soon thereafter.

I have since written all of this, taken a nice hot shower, and am ready for sleep. Tomorrow is my last day in downtown Boston, and when I wake up in the morning, I will have “miles to go before I sleep.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Katie. It looks like you are having a lot of fun. If you happen to have a picture of John Kerry's house, e-mail it to me (just kidding). Your blog is really interesting. I am going to forward it to Chris. He loves history just like you. Jen

10/17/2005 9:21 AM  

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