Register O’Donnell Notes the Significance of Presidents Day in Norfolk County

For Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell, Presidents Day has always had a special significance. “People may not know that four of the forty-six presidents of the United States were born right here in Norfolk County”, noted Register O’Donnell, “more than any other county in the United States.”

The second and sixth presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, were born in a section of Quincy that was formerly part of Braintree. In 1792, Quincy was split off from Braintree; the new town was named after Colonel John Quincy, the maternal grandfather of Abigail Adams and after whom John Quincy Adams was named. The house at what is now 133 Franklin Street, Quincy, known as the John Adams Birthplace, was built by Joseph Penniman in 1681 and inhabited by the Penniman family until Deacon John Adams (1692-1761), bought the house and six acres of property surrounding it in 1720. On October 30, 1735, Deacon John Adam’s eldest son John was born in this modest dwelling. Upon his father's death in 1761, John's younger brother Peter inherited the original homestead. The adjacent house, now 141 Franklin Street which Deacon John purchased in 1744, was bequeathed to John and is the house where John Quincy Adams was born in 1767. In 1774 Peter sold the house at 133 Franklin Street to John, who rented it out after their mother died in 1780. In 1803 John sold both houses to his son, John Quincy Adams, who lived in the house of his birth at 141 Franklin Street, and rented out 133 Franklin Street. Both houses remained in Adams family ownership, and were rented out until 1885, when most of the surrounding farmland was sold off. After sitting vacant, Charles Francis Adams Jr. authorized the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to use one of the houses as meeting space. This they did until the chapter folded in 1950. The Adams’s sold both houses to the City of Quincy in 1940, which turned administration of the property over to the Quincy Historical Society. The two houses are now part of Adams National Historical Park, and are administered by the National Park Service. They are open for guided tours.

The thirty-fifth president, John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917 at 83 Beals Street, Brookline, a three story house built in 1909, located in a middle-class neighborhood. Joseph Kennedy bought the house in 1914, shortly before his marriage to Rose Fitzgerald and the young couple were the third owners of the house. Four of the Kennedy children were born there, the second of which was future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. President Kennedy spent the first three years of his life here. In 1920, with the birth of their fourth child, Joe and Rose believed the family had outgrown the house and moved nearby to a larger house at the corner of Abbottsford and Naples Roads. The Kennedys lived in the Abbottsford Road home where Jack’s brother Robert Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925. In 1927, Joe Kennedy's business interests prompted the family to move to New York.  In 1966, as a tribute to the slain president, the Kennedy family repurchased 83 Beals Street from its private owner, and Rose Kennedy eventually restored the house to its 1917 appearance. The house is now under control of the National Park Service and is open to the public for guided and self-guided tours. All tours are free and are seasonal. 

What is not common knowledge is that the forty-first president, George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Norfolk County on June 12, 1924 at 173 Adams Street, Milton. Bush spent only the first year of his life in Milton. In 1925, his parents, Prescott Bush (a Connecticut senator from 1952 to 1963) and Dorothy Walker Bush moved the family to Connecticut. The home at 173 Adams Street has changed hands several times since the Bush family lived there and remains a private residence to this day. In 1997 at a ceremony attended by the former president, a sign and plaque were unveiled outside the home to mark its historic significance.

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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham.  The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information.  All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website  Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at [email protected].

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is closed Today, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.