Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2



A Westerly View of Harvard College, Circa 1783–1784 140[unavailable]

This sketch of the college and nearby buildings, drawn by Samuel Griffin shows, from left to right: Apthorp house; the First Church; Wadsworth and Wigglesworth houses, both nearly obscured by the church; the Sewall house; the parsonage; Christ Church; Massachusetts, Harvard, and Hollis halls; and several houses which faced what was later called Holmes Place. Apthorp house, dubbed the “Bishop's Palace,” was constructed in 1761 for the Reverend East Apthorp, who was in charge of the Anglican mission in Cambridge. Although unclear in this perspective, the houses in front of the First Church faced Braintree Street (now Massachusetts Avenue). Wadsworth house, at this time the residence of Joseph Willard, served from 1728 as the home of Harvard presidents for well over a hundred years. Wigglesworth house, owned successively by the professors Wigglesworth, became the temporary home of John Quincy Adams and James Bridge during the long, enforced vacation of 1786–1787. Professor Stephen Sewall owned the third house; Thomas Boylston Adams lived there during his freshman year at Harvard (1786–1787). Also along Braintree Street was the parsonage, home of the Reverend Timothy Hilliard during John Quincy Adams' student days at Harvard. The First Church, its thin spire shown in this view, was built in 1756; here students and faculty gathered for the services that were compulsory until the beginning of the following century. Christ Church (Episcopal), shown to the right of the parsonage, was actually across the Common and some distance away from the college buildings. The small structure de-xipicted in front of Harvard and Hollis halls was the college brewhouse (and perhaps a barn), which was later put to other uses and eventually torn down in the early nineteenth century. Of the three houses on the right-hand side, one was owned by Caleb Gannett, Harvard steward from 1779 to 1818, and another belonged to Professor Eliphalet Pearson.

Massachusetts Hall, built in 1720 and used as a dormitory, contained thirty-two rooms, each with two smaller studies. Harvard Hall, constructed after the fire of 1764, served many purposes. Within it were the chapel and library, a philosophical chamber with lecture room and scientific apparatus, and the kitchen, buttery, and dining hall. Built in 1763, Hollis Hall, in which John Quincy Adams lived, contained thirty-two rooms, each with two small studies or a study and a sleeping closet. During his junior year, Adams shared with Henry Ware a corner room on the third floor on the southeastern side, from which he commanded “a fine Prospect of Charlestown and Boston and the extensive Fields between.” He was less fortunate the following year. Because he lived with his brother Charles, a sophomore, he was assigned a room much inferior. The room was in such disarray and disrepair that the brothers spent their first two days repapering their studies (Hamilton Vaughan Bail, Views of Harvard: A Pictorial Record to 1860, Cambridge, 1949, p. 61–62, 64–72, 77–80, 32, 54–55, 57; Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 20 [1920]: illustration between 146 and 147; Richard Cranch to AA, 5–6 July 1786, Adams Papers; JQA, Diary, 26 July, 16 , 17, and 18 Aug. 1787, below).

Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives.