Indigenous Peoples called this site “Quascacunquen,” meaning waterfall, referring to the falls on the Parker River. In 1634, Newbury’s first Meeting House was built on the Lower Green at the base of the 168-foot “Great Hill” and, shortly thereafter, a sentry box was erected on the crest of the hill. At one point, approximately 12,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep grazed the area, many on cleared parts of the Great Hill.
Colonists were clearing and planting at Old Town Hill by the late 1630s – only several years after the Puritans landed at Boston. But indigenous people had seasonal settlements in this area for many centuries before the colonists arrived; some researchers believe there is an indigenous burial ground on Old Town Hill, although its location is not known.
The 168-foot elevation of what the settlers called “Great Hill” gave the landscape strategic importance. The settlers cleared a route to the top where they constructed a shelter for sentries, who had commanding views of the surrounding area. For more than three centuries, Old Town Hill has been a landmark for mariners, guiding them along the Massachusetts coastline.
Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift, with endowment, of Mrs. George A. Bushee in 1952. Additional land given by Mrs. Bushee in 1960 and 1966; Prof. and Mrs. Elliott Perkins in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1978; Mrs. Mary P. Barton and Dr. Storer P. Humphreys in 1978 and 1995 in honor of the Plumer, Humphreys, and Barton families; Susan Page Little in 1995 in memory of Justin, Silas, and Margaret Little; an anonymous donor in 2000, and Robert Barton in 2001.