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Happy Trails: Explore Quincy, MA’s Presidents Trail 

Quincy's Presidents Trail highlights the town's unique place in American history.

By Rebecca Treon on October 4, 2022

Statue of John Adams in Quincy, MA.
City of Quincy/Discover Quincy

Quincy’s rich colonial history as the birthplace of founding father John Hancock and presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams makes it a must-visit for history buffs. In addition, the Quincy Chamber of Commerce has created a walking tour called the President’s Trail that highlights significant landmarks throughout town.

“The trail provides a way for people to see the connection between these historic sites and explore the contemporary city of Quincy,” says Dr. Kristian Kloeckl, associate professor at Northeastern University in the Department of Art + Design and the School of Architecture. “It provides an opportunity to look at the trail as a catalyst to connect the past and present.”

Divided into three sections, North, Downtown and South, each feature noteworthy stops.

Exterior of the Quincy Homestead in Quincy, MA.
Courtesy of City of Quincy/Discover Quincy

North Section

Visitors can walk an easy 0.9-mile loop highlighting what life was like for Quincy residents in the 18th and 19th centuries, meandering through parks, fields and homes of generations of the Adams, Quincy and Hancock families.

It includes the John Hancock Birth Site, Adams Academy, Peace field (home to four generations of the Adams family and a popular picnic spot), and the Quincy Homestead.

Exterior photo of the Church of Presidents, which is located in Quincy, MA

Downtown Section

The easy 0.7-mile stretch also offers a cross-section of modern-day Quincy along a picturesque tree-lined boulevard with shops, galleries and restaurants. Landmarks include Quincy Town Hall, built in 1844, Hancock Adams Common, Church of the Presidents (a Unitarian Universalist congregation first established in 1639 and built-in 1828) and the Hancock Cemetery, the final resting place of Quincy’s notable residents.

Photo of the Abigail Adams Cairn, which is located in Quincy, MA.
Courtesy of City of Quincy/Discover Quincy

South Section

A moderate 1.1-mile stretch that culminates at the Abigail Adams Cairn, the section offers an exceptional view of the city. This part of the trail takes visitors through Quincy’s international shops, markets and restaurants, highlighting the city’s diversity.

At the start of the trail, is the Brackett’s Tavern Tree of Liberty. The tree was planted in the early 1700s and was a meeting point for revolutionaries. Visitors can see classic New England architecture at the John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplaces.

The trail was first established in 2017. However, in 2021 Kloeckl led a graduate-level design class whose semester was dedicated to identifying challenging or problematic aspects of the trail. They then worked to create creative ways to make the trail more accessible and prominent in the community.

Bust of John Hancock outside of the Adams Academy in Quincy, MA.
Courtesy of City of Quincy/Discover Quincy

By enhancing how people experience the President’s Trail, Kloeckl and his class brought it to the forefront of the Quincy community as an important attraction rather than hovering in the background amid modern-day life.

For example, students helped divide the trail into approachable sections, design trail markers, an app, and markers and activities along the trail to encourage public engagement.

“We’ve had really great collaborations with the mayor, the city and the Chamber of Commerce,” says Kloeckl. “We wanted to enhance and create opportunities for people to experience this trail while also connecting with local businesses that are part of Quincy’s contemporary fabric.”

If you’d like to learn more about Quincy, MA, check out the latest edition of the Livability: Quincy, MA magazine.

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