Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Visiting the "Old House"...The home of John and Abigail Adams ...and a great surprise occurs.

I just took a trip to Quincy, Mass. To see the home of John Adams (you know by reading this blog, he is one of my greatest hero's) It was a pilgrimage that was in the making for nearly 30 years. I have studied the Adams family for many years...ever since the bicentennial. So on August 6th I finally did it. I was not disappointed. My tour guide through the house had been going to the house since she was 5 years of age and now she was pushing I would guess her mid 50's. She was so in love with what the Adams family has done that she would often wipe away a tear as she talked of them. This was a person I could understand!

She asked all the members of the tour of which there were 6 if any had read the "Education of Henry Adams"??? I raised my hand ...she gave me a knowing smile...and we went on the tour. This delightful ranger and tour guide was JoAnn Bateman, and I thought she was just wonderful.
She asked me questions during the tour and fortunately I was able to answer them all. Then I got to ask some questions...This led us to spend more time than was needed. So I told her I would miss the bus and spend some time there. She asked me what I did for a living...and I told her that I work as a curator for the Thomas Edison Menlo Park Museum.....and that led us to a 15 minute talk about Edison. But I had so many questions about John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and the house ...it's history and so much more.

At this time JoAnn introduced me to Donald McDonald who worked at the Adams homestead. She told him my area of work and he asked me..."Why did Brooks Adams go with Edison rather than Tesla?"..I asked "What do you mean?" ...He said that the Adams home was electrified in 1920 with a DC system.

I thought about it...The home was rather remote and DC was great for a contained unit..and my thought was that the power plant must have been in the house or nearby.

So Donald took me on a deep intrusive tour of the lower basements of the Adams home...This was cool!! I did a complete search looking for evidence of a power plant in the structure. I looked in one of the lower rooms and found evidence of great heat and also some footings for several items. This was the site of the boiler room...Now Brooks Adams who lived in the old house in 1920, only used it as a summer home. So why would one have a room that would generate so much heat that all the wood would be singed....To me it made sense that this was the room that the generator and steam generator was....
I asked as soon as I found this if there was a chimney near by. I was told there was not. Now I looked for wiring and outside of the room I found some rather old wiring...That is what brought it all together.. I knew now that this was indeed the generator room. We went through all the other rooms trying to find a escape for all the smoke from the furnace for the generator.
I had noticed that there was some modern pipes running through the stone wall and brought that to everyone's attention. This was the beginning of the answer...We went outside and found a new chimney ...A small one... that made it all come together. So we had solved the mystery of the DC generation plant in the Adams home. This had been a mystery for years...I was very happy to have been there to solve it.
I was glad to come at the right moment. I will go back for a very in depth tour of that site in a month or two.....Who knew that that Edison and Adams could have a connection.

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