This late-nineteenth-century photograph, the only known extant view, shows the house in which John Quincy Adams' uncle and aunt, the Reverend John and Elizabeth (Smith) Shaw, lived while Shaw served as minister of the First Church from 1778 to 1794. It was here that Adams spent the fall and winter of 1785–1786 preparing himself, under the tutelage of Shaw, in Greek and Latin, for admission to Harvard. Built in 1773, the house remained the parsonage until it was sold in 1831. It was demolished in 1908. The portico, pillars, and door were probably added in the middle nineteenth century. In a view of Haverhill drawn ca. 1815 by a Mrs. Green, published in The Saltonstall Papers, 1607–1815,
ed. Robert E. Moody, MHS, Colls.
, 81: facing 326, the house without these additions is seen near the top of the hill on Main Street and opposite Shaw's Church, the third building of the First Parish Church (1766–1837). The size and elegance of the parsonage reflected the wealth that the town had garnered from inland and coastal trading before its postwar decline (Letter from Howard W. Curtis, Curator of Special Collections, Haverhill Public Library, 8 Nov. 1978, Adams Papers Editorial Files
From the Haverhill Collection, Special Collections Department, and Courtesy of the Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library.