Historic Auto Tours of Adams
Before you take this tour...
there is something you should know about the settlement of Adams which didn't occur until almost 150 years after the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock. The idea to settle Northern Berkshire didn't develop until after the French were defeated at Quebec in 1759 by British and American forces. Their defeat was also the end of their ally, the Indian.
Three years later in 1762, the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts sold at auction the tract of land which comprises Adams and North Adams. The Original Proprietors were Nathan Jones, Elisha Jones and John Murray who bought the area of land that became the East Hoosuck Settlement; divided it into Settling Lots; and tried to sell them to Connecticut families. Their sales strategy was to locate a Congregational minister, Rev. Samuel Todd, in East Hoosuck with the idea that he might convince his former congregation to come join him. The idea didn't work.
Instead, adventurous young Quaker families from Smithfield, RI and Dartmouth, MA started to buy up the settling lots. These pioneer families built their homesteads on the higher grounds and hillsides to escape the habitual flooding of the Hoosic River. Therefore most of this tour follows the high roads of Adams. The houses they built are simple not because of lack of craftsmanship or wealth but because of their religious beliefs.
The Quakers, or Society of Friends, abstained from tobacco, alcohol and dancing. They opposed war (although some Friends participated in the Revolutionary War) and in general, lived a strict life of simplicity. Their religious belief was based on the idea that each man must be guided by his inner light.
In addition to the Quaker Community the area had a large population of Baptists who settled primarily on Stafford Hill and called their settlement New Providence because many of the inhabitants were from that city in Rhode Island. The local Baptists were fiery patriots and political activists who honored two of the more forceful and radical heroes of the American revolution - Thomas Jefferson with the mammoth Cheshire Cheese and Samuel Adams with the name of their town.
By the time the Town of Adams was incorporated in 1778 these two religious groups dominated the area to the extent that Adams was a rare Massachusetts town with no Congregational minister. In fact, at the first Town Meeting a resolution was made to request the Rev. Todd to relinquish his claim to any of the land given him by the original proprietors. The Reverend relinquished nothing, instead he sold the land a few years later.
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#1 - Center Street
As the name of this street suggests this section of town was the center of activity in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Some of the first mills were located here as well as a tavern and a church. The corner of Liberty and Center Streets was a stop on the stagecoach route. Several houses were moved to this area from Stafford Hill where an early settlement once existed. Only one of these is in existence today- standing at 70 Center St. George Briggs, who served as Massachusetts Governor (1844-1851) was born in 1796 in a house that once stood at the site of the Elks Home. It was moved to 11 Weber St. in the 1800s.
#2 - Samuel Jenks House, Crandall St.
This house with the fieldstone chimneys was built circa 1790 by Samuel Jenks, the son of a prosperous settler. He owned much of the land from here to the river. In the area near Center St. he operated a saw mill, a grist mill and a wool-carding mill. His descendents include grandson L.L. Brown, a prominent Adams industrialist and daughter Elbina, who married Hiram T. Crandall, namesake of this street.
#3 - Hale-Parker House, 100 Orchard St.
This house was originally built in 1775 by Capt. Barnet Hale, a revolutionary war soldier. It was later sold to the Parker family. The estate was known as the Orchard Farm which probably gave this street its name. This house is architecturally interesting for its gambrel roof and preserved interior. Its setting among large old trees and stone wall is particularly attractive.
#4 - Eleazer Browne House, 135 Orchard St.
The Brownes were original settlers of Adams having arrived here in 1768 from Smithfield, RI. A son, John, was born in this family having the distinction of being the first of the settler children born in East Hoosuck/Adams. The house was built in 1778 and was the site of many large reunions of the Browne family.
#5 - Edmund Jenks House, Orchard St.
This is the homestead of another early settler of Adams, Edmund Jenks, who came here from Smithfield, RI in 1768 and built this large house in 1772 for his family of 6 sons and two daughters. The Jenks family owned a great amount of land between Stafford Hill and the center of town. The descendents of this family distinguished themselves in the early industrial development of Adams.
#6 - Jeremiah Bucklin House, Bucklin Rd.
The Bucklin family originally settled in the Stafford Hill area then called New Providence. Jeremiah bought this property in 1775. His son John later moved to Center St. where he was involved in early manufacturing. This house is unique for its preserved beauty and idyllic setting. The property is still used as a farm today after over 200 years of operation.
#7 - Burlingame House, Walling Rd.
The Burlingames were another pioneer family that came to Adams and prospered. In 1830 Daniel Burlingame erected a large barn, 100' x 40' on the side of Burlingame Hill. It was dedicated on July 4 and the Elder Leland of Cheshire Cheese fame, delivered a sermon that attracted a large crowd of people. The occasion was long remembered by area residents. The house that stands here was built by the son of the barn builder.
#9 - Susan B. Anthony Birthplace, Bowens Corners
In the early decades of the 1800s the area was a hub of activity in the small village of Adams. Over the years eh corners were the site of a tavern, a school and two stores. The most famous structure in this area today is the birthplace of Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), the pioneer equal rights advocate and political activist. The Federal style house was built by her father Daniel Anthony in 1817 after he married her mother, Lucy Reed. Miss Anthony was born there on February 15, 1820. At one time it housed a store located in the front north room. A separate entrance to the store once existed on the north side.
Across Walling Rd. from the Anthony house is the one-room Bowen Corners District School House, now a private residence. The schoolhouse was built in 1866 but another school building occupied that lot for many years prior.
A tavern operated by Samuel Bowen was situated on East Rd. across from the Anthony birthplace. Bowen's Tavern served travelers on the stagecoach route that passed through Adams along the East Rd. from Stafford Hill. The route cut west down East St. and then went on to North Adams. The tavern was demolished in 1981 after a fire and old age made the building unrepairable.
To the north of the tavern at the corner of East St. and East Rd. is the location of one of the first stores in Adams. The presence of a store is mentioned in a deed transferred fro Samuel Bowen to John and Hezekiah Lippett of Cheshire in 1806. The Lippetts were the managers of the mercantile enterprise.
To the west of the tavern and store, down on Tophet Brook, Daniel and John Anthony, Susan B. Anthony's father and uncle respectively, built a pump log factory in 1822 to manufacture cotton yarns. The building was three and a half stories high and its power was derived from the Tophet Brook by means of a huge overshot water wheel 26 feet in diameter. The mill employed 22 farm girls, 11 of which were boarded at the Anthony residence.
Mr. Anthony operated the mill so successfully that he was enticed to manage a mill at Battenville, NY. The Anthony family moved there in 1826.
#10 - Historic Marker, East Rd. north of East Hoosac St. intersection
This monument marks the site of Joshua Lapham's home. Mr. Lapham was a devout member and one of the first organizers of the Society of Friends in Adams. All his sons moved west by his daughter Hannah married Humphrey Anthony (grandparents of Susan B. Anthony). The Anthony couple occupied the Lapham homestead for years and it was this house that Susan B. Anthony visited when she came to Adams. She affectionately called it "The Hive."
#11 & 12 - Staples Houses, East Rd. and Lime St.
There were several Staples families who settled in different places in Adams. One of the families was located on East Hoosac St. near North Summer St. corner. That farmhouse was torn down when the St. Stanislaus Kosta Hall was built in 1918. Another family settled on West Mountain Rd. (now called Camp Hamelin Rd.). One family settled here as well as on the corner of Lime and North Summer Streets. The pioneer Staples were farmers but their descendents became brickmakers and workers in the early textile mills of Adams. Notice that the East Rd. house is of the regulation Cape Cod style.
#13 - Daniel MacFarlane House, 238 Columbia St.
This white house with blue shutters can be seen from the top of Lime St. at the corner of Columbia St. Daniel MacFarlane bought this piece of land in 1773. He was part of the Scotch-Irish settlers from Rutland, MA in Worcester County. He lived here until 1817 when his family moved to Ohio The house was later owned by Leonard J. and Phoebe Follett from Smithfield, RI. Mr. Follett was one of the first settlers to quarry lime from the hills of Adams. The house is basically the Cape Cod style with a central door between two windows but an addition makes this house appear longer than usual.
#14 - Town Meeting House, Old Columbia St.
This was the first building erected in Adams to serve as the seat of local government, which in those days was the town meeting. Before this building was erected town meetings were held at various farms alternating between the two villages of North and South Adams. In 1811 a committee started to consider the idea of a permanent meeting place. This aroused much controversy between the two villages and the idea of dividing the two towns was seriously debated. The towns didn't divide until 1878 but in 1826 this building was erected in a compromised location between the two villages.
#15 - Abraham Howland Mansion, 378 Old Columbia St.
This site has important historical value because it was initially the location of the home for the first Congregational minister, Rev. Samuel Todd. He arrived in Adams in 1766 and left in the late 1770s when the town became heavily populated with Quakers and Baptists who had no need for this minister. In 1800 Abraham Howland, a wealthy Quaker built this house. It was a very impressive structure, one of the most elegant in the country at that time. It was remodeled and modernized in 1884 when a Howland descendant married Emil Kipper of New York City.
#16 - Benjamin Lapham House, 91 Friend St.
Benjamin was the brother of Joshua Lapham who lived across the valley. Together they owned most of the land between their two houses. Benjamin Lapham came here from Dartmouth and bought this property in 1771. Like his brother he was a devout member of the Society of Friends. The Descendents of the Society of Friends have erected a marker at this site also
#17 & 18 - The Upton Houses, 140 Friend St. and the corner of Friend and Cross Streets
The large white clapboard house with wooden roof shingles is just one of the Upton farm houses. It was originally built by George Lapham in 1795 but became the home of Isaac and Lydia Upton, pioneer Quakers who farmed much of the surrounding area. They built the first brick house in Adams farther up Friend St. at the junction of Cross St. That house has since been covered with gray stucco and asphalt shingles. It was occupied by their son Daniel and his wife Mary Upton from 1836-1903.
#19 - Zacheus Hathaway, 62 Notch Rd.
Zacheus Hathaway came to East Hoosuck (Adams) in 1764 with his parents John and Elizabeth Hathaway. He was one of 13 children in the family and bought 44 acres in this vicinity from Isaac Upton in 1791. The left side of the house is the original homestead of Isaac Upton and the right side is an addition. The house is still occupied by a member of the Hathaway family.
#20 - Quaker Meeting House, Friend St.
This building is Adams' most important and best preserved piece of early American architecture. It was built in 1782 by the East Hoosuck Meeting of The Society of Friends. Its dignified simplicity is a statement about those pioneer people who helped settle East Hoosuck/Adams. The Meeting was formed in 1781 and originally constituted by many men whose homesteads can be seen on this tour. They are: David Anthony, Isaac Kiley, Isaac Upton, Joshua Lapham, George Lapham and Adam Hartness. At its peak the congregation consisted of 40 families.
There were three speakers (closest thing to clergy in Quaker religion) at their assemblies during the time that the Meeting existed. One of them was a woman, Mary Battey. A division in religious beliefs occurred around 1827 which split the Society into orthodox believers and followers of Edward Hicks. For a time the two groups shared the Meeting House holding two different services on both Sundays and Wednesdays. This schism along with prospects of better opportunities out west let to the decline of the Quaker community in Adams which started in the 1830s.
The open areas in front of the Meeting House are the unmarked graves of the dead Friends. To the southeast of the Meeting House is a plaque set in natural stone memorializing the Quakers who "laying aside their religious scruples, took up arms in the war for independence in defense of their homes and liberties."
The Descendants of the Society of Friends still hold an annual meeting in the house every first Sunday in September.
#21 & 22 - The Isaac Kiley and Joseph Shove Houses, 11 & 12 West Rd.
These two houses across the street from each other are historically connected by Job Anthony who came to own both properties. On the east side of the street is the home of Isaac Kiley, a prominent figure in the Quaker Community. Mr. Kiley erected a tanning mill on his property. Tanning was a prevalent industry in those days due to the easy availability of tanning bark in the area. Across the street is the Joseph Shrove house, another early brick house. Mr. Shrove was also involved in the tanning industry. In 1816 he took on an apprentice, Job Anthony who had come from Taunton, MA. After three years of apprenticeship Mr. Anthony contracted to support Isaac Kiley's son and daughter in exchange for the use of the family's small tanning mill and the 50-acre farm. Upon Kiley's death he bought the property. Eventually he purchased Mr. Shrove's land too. He remained a devout orthodox Quaker after the separation of the Society. Mr. Anthony and the Quakers in general were sympathetic to run-away slaves from New York. He hid them from their pursuers and helped them start farms in isolated spots around Mt. Greylock. Both the houses are still occupied by members of the Anthony family.
#23 - The Dean Grist Mill and Cotton Batting Factory West Rd.
This small mill situated along Peck's Brook was operated by James B. Dean. It derived its power from a waterwheel and the control of water from Peck's Brook. The Dean family played an active part in town affairs as manufacturers, merchants, blacksmiths and tanners. Many of the family members served in town and state government. The surrounding area is still owned by descendants of the Dean family.
#24 - Israel Cole Homestead, West Rd.
This Federal style house is an addition to a regulation/Cape style house located to the rear. The Cape was built about 1775 by David Aldrich, a speaker at the East Hoosuck Meeting. Cole Mountain, to the west of this property, was once part of this homestead.
Excerpted from a brochure published by Adams Historical Commission.