Old Concord Road

In 2008, Red Rail Farm, part of the Burnham-Adams Barn and Stable Complex and part of a country estate built in 1889-91, was recommended for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Burnham-Adams Barn and Stable complex represents the most extensive and significant surviving estate barn complex in Lincoln and the most outstanding example from the town’s turn-of-the-century estate period. It is a significant part of a country-estate landscape designed in the later part of the 19th Century by America’s preeminent landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903).

After Charles Francis Adams died in 1915 the estate was left to his widow, Mary Ogden Adams and continued operating under the management of his son, John Adams. After his mother’s death in 1935, John, who had inherited the property, sold much of it to his son, architect John Quincy Adams (1902-2003) and his wife Lucy Dodge (Rice) Adams. Quincy oversaw the continuing operation and disposition of the farm for much of the remainder of his life.

J. Q. Adams was a leader in Lincoln’s extensive conservation efforts, serving for many years on the Lincoln Conservation Commission and masterminding the town’s conservation plan. For over twenty years he purposely developed part of the estate into a Modern neighborhood, designing many of the houses himself. He also retained and sought to protect the farm compound, selling much of the surrounding lands to the town for conservation purposes and placing other parcels in a conservation trust. 

In 1935, J. Q. Adams returned to Lincoln after graduating with a degree in architecture at Columbia University. He sought the most progressive architectural education possible at the time in America, seeking to learn more about the European Modern Movement and city and town planning. He was moved by Modernism’s ideals and by the idea of a “democratic” architecture that sought to provide affordable housing through the use of mass-produced building materials and efficient space. The everyday life of a Modern house dweller was to be enriched and enhanced by large glass openings to out of doors that brought nature in.

When Quincy returned to Lincoln, these ideals motivated him to take charge of developing the Burnham-Adams estate land that his father had wanted to sell. Instead of simply maximizing profits, Quincy’s primary motive was to preserve its “sense of place.” by sub dividing the property into extraordinarily large lots and providing as much “green space” around each house as possible. And, the houses were meant to be affordable, not country estates. He appreciated the unique culture of Lincoln that reflected the work of all its citizens and he appreciated how easily the town could become filled with the “royal rich”.

Old Concord Road is one of Lincoln’s earliest Modern neighborhoods (Woods End Road was developed in 1938-39). Two Modern houses on the north branch were designed by Adams and built right before America entered World War II and a housing freeze was put into effect. After the war, the development of the south branch of Old Concord Road continued. With the exception of the King house on the north branch and an 18th century house moved from Lancaster MA, the remaining fourteen houses were Modern, built between 1946 and 1962. They were kept in scale to the landscape, very rarely dominating the land.

The houses on Old Concord Road represent a short-lived idealistic period in American architectural history and the history of the road is unique. It reaches from an early New England farm whose family members fought in the earliest battle of the Revolutionary War; to becoming one of most important country estate properties established at the turn of the twentieth century; to the 1930s, when a Modern democratic spirit was expressed in thoughtful planning, not exploitation, by a member of one of our country’s most important publicly-minded families.

1950 Henry Hoover designed home

207 Old Concord Road