Dorothy Quincy Homestead
A National Historic Landmark, the Dorothy Quincy Homestead is significant for its role in early American history, for its architecture, and for its Quincy family association. The property, located at the corner of Hancock Street and Butler Road, is part of the original land that Edmund Quincy acquired for a farm in the 1630s. Dating from 1680 and built by Edmund Quincy II, the house was enlarged and enhanced over a period of more than 200 years. Its majestic Georgian frontispiece and gambrel roof, with distinctive dormer windows, give the building a stately and substantial appearance.
The Homestead served as a home for five generations of Quincys, one of the leading families of Massachusetts. Their progeny include Josiah Quincy, Samuel Quincy, President John Quincy Adams, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. During the pre-Revolutionary period, this estate house was likely visited by influential American patriots such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Hancock. The house was also the childhood home of Dorothy Quincy Hancock, the first First Lady of Massachusetts, the wife of John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the first governor of the Commonwealth.
The Dorothy Quincy Homestead represents four architectural periods. In 1680 the original two-story house was built and the kitchen portion remains to this day. In 1706 extensive additions were made under the occupancy of Edmund Quincy III, from 1708 to 1738, the general current form of the house emerged. Finally in the mid-18th century, bay windows and a few additional rooms were added. It is one of the few houses in Massachusetts in which the elements of a 17th-century building are still clearly visible, although they have been surrounded by a later style. The house is an excellent illustration of how architectural styles developed during the colonial period.
A myriad of national themes may be explored at the Dorothy Quincy Homestead. These include the study of the lives of the settlers in the Massachusetts Colony, the endeavors of the Patriots, the Quincy family, John Hancock, women’s issues, portraiture, and landscape design.
The Homestead’s furnishings provide an intriguing historical record of daily life in a house dating back three centuries. Worthy of attention are three bedsteads dressed with documented treatments and fabric, one of which is a field bedstead with arched tester.
The parlor features wallpaper which was created in Paris around 1790. The design belongs to the Pompeian revival style which exploited the delicate and expressive possibilities of painted wall decoration.
Also available for viewing during tours is a restored chariot owned by John Hancock. Built in England in 1777 and captured by Americans at sea, the chariot was later presented to Hancock, who used it as his vehicle. In the 19th century, the wheels were removed from the chariot, and it was converted into a horse-drawn sleigh.
The heritage garden is accessible to the public sunrise to sunset each day of the year. The garden features a colonial parterre design as well as a herb kitchen garden. When touring the property, all dogs must be on leash.
In 1904 The National Society of The Colonial Dames in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased the Dorothy Quincy Homestead, and then entered into a long-term cooperative relationship with the Commonwealth whereby the Department of Conservation and Recreation would own the property and would be responsible for maintaining the exterior of the house and grounds. The Dames agreed to furnish and maintain the interior of the house and to interpret its important history for visitors. This relationship continues today.
The Dorothy Quincy Homestead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.