Birthplace Construction to 1947

The Abigail Adams Birthplace is Built

The birthplace of Abigail Smith Adams was built in 1685 for the Reverend Samuel Torrey, minister of The First Church in Weymouth.   The original location was at the corner of North and East Streets, three hundred feet to the southeast of its present location.


Abigail Smith Adams is Born

In 1738, the “Torrey Mansion” as it was known, was bought by Reverend William Smith who had come to Weymouth four years earlier to serve as minister of The First Church.  In 1740 he married Elizabeth Quincy of Braintree and they lived in the mansion all of their married life.  Abigail Smith was born in the house on November 11, 1744 the second of four children born. Abigail lived in this house for the first 20 years of her life until she married John Adams in 1764. Abigail was a frequent visitor to the house after her marriage.

In 1761 a sizeable addition to the house was constructed in order to accommodate visiting family and students under Reverend Smith’s care.


The Birthplace is Moved and Reconstructed

When Reverend Smith died, he left the family residence to his daughter Mary who sold it in 1788 to the Reverend Jacob Norton.   A year later he married Mary’s daughter Elizabeth Cranch and lived in the house until he left Weymouth in 1823.

In 1826 The First Church bought the birthplace for its first owned parsonage, but in 1838 found that it was so dilapidated that its members voted to build a new home on the same site.   With the exception of the 1685 section, the house was torn down; some of the lumber was salvaged and used in the construction of the new parsonage, which is now a private residence at 8 East Street.   The original gambrel-roofed house was sold to a local farmer, Nathaniel Ford, who had it towed by oxen a mile north to his farm on Bridge Street in North Weymouth and used it to house his farm workers. For the next century the building, with a rear addition, housed workers on the farm. In 1943 the U.S. Government Housing Agency bought the farm to redevelop as the Wessagussett Federal Housing Project and cleared all the farm buildings except the Adams Birthplace.

In 1947, the birthplace faced demolition, along with several other structures on the property, in order to build federal housing. A small group of citizens, who recognized the historical significance of the home, came together to save the birthplace and formed the Abigail Adams Historical Society.