The tour begins at the visitor's center in Quincy. Validation for parking is offered and the tour is $5 per person over age 16. Tickets for the tour are first come, first serve (large groups are allowed to make reservations), so usually there is an hour or two wait giving guests time to explore the visitor's center and browse the store. Having a history degree, I had read David McCullough's book John Adams as well as seen the HBO mini-series. I thought I knew plenty and was simply there to see the sites in person. I did not realize how little I knew about this family. My knowledge of John Quincy in particular was incomplete. He began working for the federal government at the age of 14 and practically died on the steps of the Capitol. He was the brilliant lawyer that successfully argued the Amistad case before the Supreme Court, all or whom were slave owners. His tenure in the US Congress after being a President ended at the time of Lincoln's Congressional election. His son, Charles, was ambassador during the Civil War, successfully arguing that England not support the Confederacy. His wife was the charming lady that opened doors in Europe and America. And then there was the store. . .
The bus than whisks visitors to Peacefield--the manor house of the Adams post-Revolution. The house is filled with original furnishings belonging to the Adams family--lamps, chairs, linens, paintings, vases. Each room is a powerful museum where tour guides tell stories about key artifacts and the four generations of Adams that lived there. After a tour of the house and gardens, the Stone Library contains one of the oldest American collections including the famous Treaty of Paris painting.
At the end of this two hour tour, the bus returns visitors to the center. The experience is incredible in teaching about the lives of two of our presidents and the legacy of their family. It also demonstrates life in the 1700s and 1800s and the hardships endured by families. The reality that John Adams' legal services was not sufficient income and was supplemented by the farm. As a mother of 5, the colonial kitchen, bathroom, and laundry seemed particularly primitive especially when paired with a New England winter.
Though I love bringing children to historic places and museums, this tour is more suited for school aged children. The length of the tour and the inability to touch any artifacts within each house make this tour difficult for preschoolers and almost impossible for toddlers.
Be sure to add this powerful tour to your next trip in Boston.