John Adams’ Greatest Gift to Quincy

By John Galluzzo  |  Photos courtesy of Quincy Historical Society

Quincy produced two United States Presidents. John Adams, the second President of the United States, never forgot his hometown. Hoping to memorialize the lives of his friend John Hancock and Boston mayor Josiah Quincy, President John Adams dedicated funds to build a school in their honor. He set aside eight acres of land at Quincy Center, called for granite to be taken from the Adams quarries and even left curriculum ideas for future school masters. Adams Academy opened in 1872, but closed in 1908 when enrollment became so low and made future operation economically unfeasible. The building is now the home of the Quincy Historical Society.

The Building of Adams Academy

John Adams was long gone when the fund he left finally had enough money to build the school. His grandson, Charles Francis Adams, hired architect Henry Van Brunt to design the academy. Van Brunt, in partnership with William Robert Ware, had designed several buildings around Harvard University, their alma mater. Completed in 1870, the new Adams Academy cost a total of $29,000.

Adams Academy Interior

After the failing of the school, the structure was utilized by the Red Cross, Boy Scouts and other organizations. In 1934, the Quincy Historical Society threw its hat into the ring, but it wasn’t until 1972 that the society moved in as the permanent resident. Today, the building houses a beautiful historical exhibit, a research library and a community meeting space.

Arch at Adams Academy

The history of the Adams Academy as a school was brief, but it was interesting. The school prided itself on its football program, then in its infancy. Check out the boy sitting in the center, second row holding a football.

Hancock Bust

John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, was born in Quincy. The house of his birth stood where the Adams Academy stands today. Sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt cast this bust in 1910 and the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company gifted it to the City of Quincy in 1951.


Doughboy Statue

On November 11, 1925, the seventh anniversary of the end of World War I, Quincy dedicated its Doughboy Statue on the grounds of the Coddington School “to the men of Quincy who served in the World War, 1917-18.” But you will not find the statue in its original spot today. Like so many of Quincy’s statues, the Doughboy has moved. He now stands guard in front of the Adams Academy Building.

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