Castle Hill on the Crane Estate
Ipswich, MA
165 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Mountain Biking Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Dog Walking Not Permitted Quest Guided Tours Mobility-impaired Access Restroom Bed and Breakfast Gardens Regional Trail Link Historic House or Structure Private Function Rentals

About Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

Experience the grandeur of a seaside estate and its marvelously landscaped grounds, notable for a broad, undulating lawn running down to the shore.

What makes Castle Hill a special place?
Centuries before becoming a grand summer estate owned by one of America’s wealthiest families, Castle Hill was well known by Native Americans, who called the area Agawam, referring to its rich fishery. John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, laid claim to Castle Hill in 1637. For more than two centuries, a succession of owners farmed the land. Beginning in the 1880s, J. B. Brown transformed Castle Hill Farm from an agricultural holding into a gentleman’s farm, improving roadways and plantings and renovating his modest farmhouse into a rambling, shingle-style cottage that is now The Inn at Castle Hill.

In the decades following Richard T. Crane, Jr.’s purchase of the property in 1910, Castle Hill came to exemplify the American Country Place Era with its farm and estate buildings, designed grounds and gardens, and diverse natural areas. The Cranes hired some of the century’s most notable architects and landscape architects. The first house built atop Castle Hill, an Italian Renaissance Revival villa designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, was razed and replaced in 1928 with the 59-room Stuart-style mansion designed by architect David Adler you see today. The Great House is furnished with period antiques.

Castle Hill is also home to a wide diversity of wildlife typical of northeast Massachusetts forests. Deer, fox, turkey, and a multitude of songbirds can be observed from the many trails and roads on Castle Hill. In addition, Castle Hill is home to several pairs of nesting great horned owls and red-tailed hawks. Due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent Crane Beach, unusual species such as turkey vultures, migratory hawks, and even an occasional bald eagle can be seen soaring above the landscape.

Trails
Four miles of trails and roads. Moderate hiking. Castle Hill is a link in the Bay Circuit Trail.

When to Visit
Note: The Great House, Casino Complex, and the grab and go Castle Hill Café will be closed on July 4.
Grounds: year-round, daily, 8am to sunset;  Great House: guided and self guided tour experiences May 26 through October 16. Open Tuesday – Thursday, 10AM – 4PM, Friday and Saturday, 10AM – 2PM.  Casino Complex:  Open daily, 10AM – 5PM. A wide range of public programs are offered throughout the year; please visit our events calendar for upcoming programs. Allow a minimum of 2½ hours (including Great House and Casino Complex, 6 hours if also visiting Crane Beach and the Crane Wildlife Refuge.)

Facilities

  • Public restrooms in the Great House (open during tours) and in the Casino Complex, 10AM – 5PM.
  • Grab and go Castle Hill Café, located in the gift shop, open Tuesdays-Saturdays, May 26 through Oct 16, 10AM-4PM. Featuring light lunch items by Ferreira Foods of Salem. See the menu.
  • Ice cream, beverages, and activities for kids and adults are available in the Casino Complex, 10AM – 5PM. See the menu.
  • The Inn at Castle Hill offers overnight B&B accommodation.

    Regulations & Advisories

    • Castle Hill Café! Open Tuesdays-Saturdays, May 20 through Oct 18, 11AM-2PM. On the terrace of the Great House overlooking the Grand Allée. Featuring light lunch items by Ferreira Foods of Salem. See the menu.

    • Ice cream, beverages, and activities for kids and adults are available in the Casino Complex, 10AM – 5PM. See the menu.
    • The Great House serves as offices for The Trustees of Reservations. The ground floor of the Great House may be rented for private functions, during which public access to the grounds immediately surrounding the Great House is restricted. Steep Hill Beach may also be rented for private functions. Find more information on private functions rentals.

    • Seasonal hunting (deer only) is permitted only as part of a deer management program administered by The Trustees of Reservations. Contact The Trustees' Northeast Regional Ecologist for details. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties.

    • Mountain biking is permitted only on paved and dirt roads.

    • Photography is not permitted inside the house.

    • Photo Shoots / Engagement Photos (outdoors): Please view our Portrait Photo Agreement for rules and restrictions.

    • Dogs are allowed only on the beach below the high tide line. They are not allowed at Castle Hill.

    Directions

    The Crane Estate
    290 Argilla Road
    Ipswich, MA 01938
    Telephone: 978.356.4351
    E-mail: castlehill@ttor.org

    Latitude: 42.6827
    Longitude: -70.7774

    Get directions on Google Maps.

    From Rt. 128 North Exit 20A, take Rt. 1A North for 8 mi. to Ipswich. Turn right onto Rt. 133 East and follow for 1.5 mi. Turn left onto Northgate Rd. and follow for 0.5 mi. Turn right onto Argilla Rd. and follow for 2.3 mi. to entrance on left.

    Admission

    ADMISSION & FEES

    Grounds:
    Members: FREE. Nonmembers: $10 per car; $2 per bicycle; $4 per motorcycle. Ipswich residents FREE on weekdays; same admission fees as nonmembers on weekends. All vehicles receive 50% admission discount after 3PM, year-round, every day.
    Tours: See below for fees.

    WHEN TO VISIT
    Note: The Great House, Casino Complex, and the grab and go Castle Hill Café will be closed on July 4.
    Grounds: year-round, daily, 8am to sunset;  Great House: guided and self guided tour experiences May 26 through October 16. Open Tuesday – Thursday, 10AM – 4PM, Friday and Saturday, 10AM – 2PM.  Casino Complex:  Open daily, 10AM – 5PM. A wide range of public programs are offered throughout the year; please visit our events calendar for upcoming programs. Allow a minimum of 2½ hours (including Great House and Casino Complex, 6 hours if also visiting Crane Beach and the Crane Wildlife Refuge.)

    TOUR EXPERIENCES
    May 26–October 16


    Guest of the Cranes

    Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday | 11AM, 1 & 3PM Friday & Saturday | 11AM & 1PM Members: $5. Nonmembers: $15.
    It’s 1929 and you’ve just arrived after a long journey to see the famous Great House and visit your friends, the Crane family. A member of the household staff greets you at the door and in-troduces you to all the leisure and entertainment the estate has to offer during your stay.

    A Cupola with a View
    Tuesday—Saturday | 12NOON Members: $10. Nonmembers: $20.
    The climactic moment of this experience is climbing the spiral staircase to the Cupola and out onto the roof top. Take in the expansive view and learn more about the long and rich history of the land prior to the Crane ownership. Make your friends envious by posting your rooftop selfies on social media.

    Hot and Cold (starts June 3)
    Wednesdays | 2PM Saturdays | 9:30AM Members: $10. Nonmembers: $20.
    Go behind the scenes to see the inner workings of this techno-logically advanced summer home and see what help make this modern 20th century American country house tick.

    A Curator’s Castle Hill
    Fridays, June 26, July 31, August 28, September 25 & October 16 | 12:30—2PM Members: $20. Nonmembers: $30
    Learn about the history-detective work that goes into the res-toration of the Crane’s 59-room mansion! Take a closer look at objects in the Great House with a member of our curatorial team to catch a unique glimpse into the past. A perfect tour for the decorative arts, architecture, and art history aficionados.

    Beyond the Great House (starts June 7)
    Sundays| 9:30AM & 12:30PM Members: $20. Nonmembers: $30
    This is the ultimate behind-the-scenes experience of much of the estate by electric golf cart. Peek into the outbuildings that supported the estate then and today. You’ll have access to the old dairy, the barns, chauffeur’s garage, and ice house to name a few. The tour begins from the Casino Complex. Closed-toed shoes are recommended.

    The Cat’s Meow (starts July 3)
    Fridays, July & August | 10:30AM Members: $5. Nonmembers: $15. Children FREE. Backpack babies welcome.
    How do you like to spend your summer vacation? On this interactive tour for younger visitors and their families, join a member of the Crane’s household staff to explore what made this a relaxing summer home. Peak into some of their private rooms and discover the family cat’s favorite hiding places!

    View all upcoming tours and events at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate >

    Property History

    For centuries, this dramatic coastscape served as seasonal fishing grounds for Native Americans before European settlement turned it to agriculture. By the late-19th century it had evolved into a gentleman’s farm; Richard T. Crane, Jr., began its transformation into a sprawling summer estate during the early decades of the 20th century.

    Property Acquisition History
    Bequeathed by Mrs. Richard T. Crane, Jr. in 1949. Additional land given by Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Eliot II in 1980; Dr. Robert L. Goodale in 1980; Mr. and Mrs. David C. Crockett in 1981; Mr. and Mrs. David W. Scudder in 1981; and Mr. and Mrs. Richard H. Venn in 1982.

    Archival Collections
    Archival material related to Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is available to researchers at the Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts.

    Castle Hill Collection
    (41.0 linear feet)
    Regarding the Crane Family, the Crane Company, Castle Hill Foundation, and the management of Castle Hill by The Trustees of Reservations, 1832–2007.
    Finding aid available at the Archives & Research Center.

    Anna Gustafson Anna Gustafson Erickson Papers
    (0.25 linear feet)
    Regarding Anna Gustafson Erickson, who worked for the Crane Family from 1912 to 1913.


    The Archives & Research Center welcomes donations of documents, manuscripts, records, photographs, maps and memorabilia that pertain to a particular property. Please contact us at 781.784.8200 or arc@ttor.org.

    Programs

    The Inn at Castle Hill offers luxurious overnight accommodations. The Tavern is available for rentals for business meetings and cocktail receptions.

    TOUR EXPERIENCES
    May 26–October 16


    Guest of the Cranes

    Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday|11AM, 1 & 3PM Friday & Saturday| 11AM & 1PM Members: $5. Nonmembers: $15.
    It’s 1929 and you’ve just arrived after a long journey to see the famous Great House and visit your friends, the Crane family. A member of the household staff greets you at the door and in-troduces you to all the leisure and entertainment the estate has to offer during your stay.

    A Cupola with a View
    Tuesday—Saturday| 12NOON Members: $10. Nonmembers: $20.
    The climactic moment of this experience is climbing the spiral staircase to the Cupola and out onto the roof top. Take in the expansive view and learn more about the long and rich history of the land prior to the Crane ownership. Make your friends envious by posting your rooftop selfies on social media.

    Hot and Cold (starts June 3)
    Wednesdays| 2PM Saturdays| 9:30AM Members: $10. Nonmembers: $20.
    Go behind the scenes to see the inner workings of this techno-logically advanced summer home and see what help make this modern 20th century American country house tick.

    A Curator’s Castle Hill
    Fridays, June 26, July 31, August 28, September 25 & October 16|12:30—2PM Members: $20. Nonmembers: $30
    Learn about the history-detective work that goes into the res-toration of the Crane’s 59-room mansion! Take a closer look at objects in the Great House with a member of our curatorial team to catch a unique glimpse into the past. A perfect tour for the decorative arts, architecture, and art history aficionados.

    Beyond the Great House (starts June 7)
    Sundays| 9:30AM & 12:30PM Members: $20. Nonmembers: $30
    This is the ultimate behind-the-scenes experience of much of the estate by electric golf cart. Peek into the outbuildings that supported the estate then and today. You’ll have access to the old dairy, the barns, chauffeur’s garage, and ice house to name a few. The tour begins from the Casino Complex. Closed-toed shoes are recommended.

    The Cat’s Meow (starts July 3)
    Fridays, July & August| 10:30AM Members: $5. Nonmembers: $15. Children FREE. Backpack babies welcome.
    How do you like to spend your summer vacation? On this interactive tour for younger visitors and their families, join a member of the Crane’s household staff to explore what made this a relaxing summer home. Peak into some of their private rooms and discover the family cat’s favorite hiding places!

    Conservation and Stewardship

    Restoring a National Landmark

    Nearly 100 years after their planting, the trees that form the rolling, grassy lawn known as the Grand Allée at Castle Hill showing their age: they were meant to form a tall hedge, but they have since outgrown that original design. The trees have also weakened with age.

    In 2010, The Trustees launched a three-year effort to restore the Allée. The goal is to reveal the spectacular originally created by landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff a century ago, and to ensure the health of the trees and the landscape for next 100 years.

    Read about this ambitious project and see photos of Phase One >>

     


    Management Planning for Our Properties
 


    Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
 


    • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

    • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

    • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

    • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.


    View Castle Hill management plan.

    Maps and Resources

    A Visitor's Guide to the Crane Estate is a self-guided landscape tour booklet introducing visitors to Castle Hill, Crane Beach, and the Crane Wildlife Refuge. It is available from the Castle Hill gatehouse.

    Literature about events at the Crane Estate, other Trustees properties to visit in the region, and membership in The Trustees of Reservations is available from the gatehouse. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.



    Private Functions

    The Great House may be rented for private gatherings, weddings, or other celebrations.

    Steep Hill Beach (located at the western end of Crane Beach and at the base of Castle Hill) may be rented for corporate outings. 

    Planning Your Visit

    Community Links
    Ipswich Online

    Before You Go
    We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

    Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

    • Protect wildlife and plants.
    • Guard against all risk of fire.
    • Help keep air and water clean.
    • Carry out what you carry in.
    • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
    • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
    • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
    • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

    Click on links below for further visitor information:

    Before Setting Out

    Enjoying Trustees Reservations

    Safety

    About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

    Tell Us What You Think

    We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

    1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

    2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

    3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.


    Submitted by Kerry on: October 26, 2011
    Crane Estate is steeped in nostalgia for me and my husband. We took many a day trip to the estate through all seasons and we developed our relationship and memories during these visits while we were dating 18 years ago when we lived in the area. We've since moved away but recently decided to renew our love, vows and promise to each other as a couple on September 25, 2011 in the Italian Garden of the estate. It's a private and intimate place. We could not have asked for a better location to show each other our love and commitment, the Garden just exudes romance. We will always love your setting. It's beautiful and romantic, it's calming and serene, it's a dream come true for us. Thank you, and please continue to keep this place as it is. It's a wonderfully amazing and magical place.



    Submitted by Bmac on: July 8, 2010
    I'm a local member and I've wanted to do the house tour for quite some time now. Finally got around to it thanks to some out of town company and we were all very impressed. Loved hearing about the house and the family. Of course we expected to see and loved the decor and the moldings and architecture but thought that the trustees should think about putting together a tour for the "guys" that would show off all the cool things about the house that made it so "modern" for its time. The fire prevention, the coal burners, the steam tables, the cistern that's being modernized, the key system. Its obvious that the Crane's lived a charmed life but the support system that it took to create that life is interesting on its own merits.



    Submitted by Dennis on: October 2, 2009
    On Saturday, September 26, my friend and I visited the Crane Estate. A perfect day of visiting the Castle Hill and enjoying the grounds was more more perfect by the tour guide in the mansion, Ally. She was bright, energetic, personable, and knowledgeable. My friend is already a support of the Trustees of Reservations. I plan to join soon. Thank you



    Submitted by Lisa on: September 28, 2009
    This place is so awesome.



    Submitted by Chucky on: August 21, 2009
    Hello. I attended the Beatles function last night and I have to write this and let you know about a remarkable experience I had. One of your workers named Bill Mikardy was not only extremely professional but he was very kind. His cell phone and radio constantly went off and at the same time he was running around helping everyone. The place was very crowded and yet he managed to take the time and help me find my car. My elderly mother was so appreciative and thought he was a wonderful man. Please let him know how grateful we are. You are very lucky to have such a dedicated worker indeed! Thank you so much! Charles Steinway



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