Colonial America
Things to See & Do in Massachusetts
Adams National Historical Park
Adams National Historical Park is located in the City of Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, approximately ten miles south of Boston. The Park comprises 11 historic structures and a cultural landscape totaling almost 14 acres. The story encompasses five generations of the Adams family (from 1720 to 1927) including two Presidents and First Ladies, three U.S.Ministers, historians, writers and family members who supported and contributed to the success of these public figures. The site's main historic features include: John Adams Birthplace, where 2nd U.S. President John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, and less than 75 yards away the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, where his son, John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President was born on July 11, 1767; the "Old House," home to four generations of the Adams family; the Stone Library contains more than 14,000 historic volumes and includes the book collection of John Quincy Adams; no tour is complete without a visit to the United First Parish Church, where both Presidents and the First Ladies are entombed in the Adams family crypt. There is an off-site visitor center located within one mile of the historic structures.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Salem Maritime, the first National Historic Site in the National Park System, was established to preserve and interpret the maritime history of New England and the United States. The Site consists of about nine acres of land and twelve historic structures along the waterfront in Salem, Massachusetts, as well as a Visitor Center in downtown Salem. The Site documents the development of the Atlantic triangular trade during the colonial period, the role of privateering during the Revolutionary War, and the international maritime trade, especially with the Far East, which established American economic independence after the Revolution. The Site is also the focal point of the Essex National Heritage Area, designated in 1996, which links thousands of historic places in Essex County around three primary historic themes: colonial settlement, maritime trade, and early industrialization in the textile and shoe industries.
Longfellow National Historic Site
Longfellow National Historic Site is an outstanding example of a historic site representing the themes of arts and literature. For almost half a century (1837-1882) this was the home of one of the world's foremost poets, scholars and educators, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow House is also significant in America's colonial history. General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the newly-formed Continental Army, headquartered and planned the Siege of Boston here between July, 1775 and April, 1776. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow enjoyed enormous popularity during his lifetime and continues to influence our cultural and historical perceptions. He and his immediate and extended family and friends played a central role in the intellectual and artistic life of nineteenth century America and are credited with shaping a distinctly American identity and culture. Longfellow House was a favorite gathering place for many prominent philosophers and artists including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe, and Charles Sumner.
Minute Man National Historical Park
At Minute Man National Historical Park, the Battles of Lexington and Concord are brought to life through the preservation, restoration and interpretation of significant sites from "that famous day and year" when Colonists took up arms in defense of liberty and touched off the American Revolution. At Concord's North Bridge, visitors can see the place where, on April 19, 1775, Colonial militia men fired the famous "shot heard 'round the world." Reflect on the meaning of freedom in a tranquil, commemorative landscape that includes Daniel Chester French's Minute Man Statue. Along our five-mile "Battle Road Trail" you can travel back in time through a restored colonial landscape and retrace the steps of the British Regulars as they made the long and deadly journey back to Boston under fire from thousands of Colonial militia men. Parts of this trail follow the original route of the old "Battle Road" of April 19, 1775. Along the way, stop in and visit the Hartwell Tavern, a restored 18th-century tavern on Battle Road. It is now a "living history" center staffed by costumed Park Rangers who can offer you a glimpse of life in Revolutionary times. At the Wayside: Home of Authors, learn about Concord's "second revolution" as you visit the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America's most famous authors of the 19th century who helped define our American identity.
Boston National Historical Park
Boston National Historical Park is an association of sites that together give the visitor a coherent view of the city's role in the nation's history. Each site brings to life the American ideals of freedom of speech, religion, government, and self-determination. Most of Boston National Historical Park's sites are connected by the Freedom Trail, a 3-mile walking tour of 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown. In addition to the sites along the Freedom Trail, the National Park Service maintains an important part of the Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the nation's first naval shipyards, where the USS Constitution (also a stop on the Freedom Trail) is berthed. Located in South Boston and separate from the Freedom Trail, Dorchester Heights is significant for its role in the evacuation of the British from Boston during the Revolutionary War.
Essex National Heritage Area
The Essex National Heritage Area begins just 10 miles north of Boston and extends for 40 miles along the scenic coast of Massachusetts. The Area is characterized by white, sandy beaches interspersed with rugged granite outcroppings, and overlaid by 400 years of New England history and culture. From the Atlantic Ocean up the Merrimack River, this 550-square-mile region features historic seaports, white clapboard buildings, renown art and cultural museums, antique farms, wooden boat-building shops, early industrial mill complexes, and significant wildlife refuges - both on-shore and off-shore. The Area is instilled with authentic Yankee character. Three significant themes of American history can be easily experienced within its boundaries: early colonial settlement, maritime commerce and sailing, and New England’s early Industrial Revolution. The Area contains two National Park sites and hundreds of historic structures, museums, and natural resources, and it is within an easy day trip of Boston by train or car.
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
This is the site of the first integrated ironworks in North America, 1646-1668. It includes the reconstructed blast furnace, forge, rolling mill, and a restored 17th century house. With the archeological site of the 17th century iron-making plant, the museum collection, Iron Works House, and the reconstructed iron works complex, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site illustrates the critical role of iron making to seventeenth-century settlement and its legacy in shaping the early history of the nation. The site's enclave setting on the Saugus River, featuring an open-air museum with working waterwheels, evokes a unique experience for park visitors. These resources demonstrate 17th century engineering and design methods, iron-making technology and operations, local and overseas trade, and life and work in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The original manufacturing site served as a training ground for skilled iron workers for what would become America's iron and steel industry. Iron making provided the infrastructure for the rise of other colonial industries. Called, "the forerunner of America's industrial giants," the site served as a center for technology, innovation and invention. The site interprets early industrial manufacturing, with its enduring social, political and environmental ramifications.
Lowell National Historical Park
The history of America's Industrial Revolution is commemorated in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum with its operating weave room of 88 power looms, "mill girl" boardinghouses, the Suffolk Mill Turbine Exhibit and guided tours tell the story of the transition from farm to factory, chronicle immigrant and labor history and trace industrial technology. The park includes textile mills, worker housing, 5.6 miles of canals, and 19th-century commercial buildings.
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