Northeast

Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

Ipswich

165 acres

Experience the grandeur of a seaside estate, its marvelously landscaped grounds, restored Grand Allée, gardens, and Casino complex.

Share

Plan Your Visit
  • Overview
  • Ideas for Your Visit
  • Admission & Hours
  • Directions & Contact Info
  • Facilities & Accessibility
  • Venue Rental
  • Property Map
  • Regulations & Advisories

Overview

Castle Hill has a deep and storied past. The land we call Castle Hill was originally stewarded by indigenous peoples, who called this area Agawam, meaning “place beyond the marsh.” Their sagamore, Masconomet, entered into an alliance with the settlers of Ipswich in 1632 and afterwards this drumlin by the edge of the Atlantic became known as Castle Hill. Over the years, it saw many owners, but the hill never had a castle built upon it. 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.

After Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr. and his wife, Florence Higinbotham Crane, purchased the property in 1910, Castle Hill came to exemplify a European-inspired country estate of the era, with its farm and estate buildings, designed grounds and gardens, and diverse natural areas. 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 Great House, the 59-room Stuart-style mansion designed by architect David Adler that you see today. Castle Hill became the center piece of an estate that encompassed 3,500 acres, emphasizing the natural landscapes, their stewardship and protection.

In 1910, the same year they purchased the property, the Cranes amended their wills to reflect that the Trustees would be bequeathed this astounding property. They understood the value of land preservation. The Trustees now steward 2,100 acres of the family’s 3,500 acres. Castle Hill comprises 365 of those acres and captures the essence of summer living during the American Country Place Era.

Welcome to Castle Hill!

Advance passes for grounds admission to Castle Hill are suggested but not required. Having an advance grounds admission guarantees admission for the day and time of your visit. Admission is otherwise first come, first served. We tend to sell out on weekends and holidays in the summer and when the weather is fine.

Ideas for Your Visit

Tour the Great House, gardens, and/or landscape and be transported back to 1929. See what it was to summer in Ipswich with the Crane family, visit the roof and learn about the architecture and innovation contained within the Great House walls, explore the formal gardens, or ride our tour cart around the barn complex and other buildings further afield. Check out our tour options and availability.

We’ve got an app for that! Download “TourTrustees: Castle Hill smartphone App” from Google Play or the App Store to listen to a narrated audiotour.

Garden enthusiasts will be transfixed by the spectacular Italian Garden and its sister, the show-stopping Rose Garden. Both have been renovated and are tended with expertise, love, and care. Laid out in the classic “garden room” style, these gardens offer tranquility, musing and stunning backdrops for the special moments of our lives. For a preview, peruse our head gardener’s list of plantings or book a guided tour experience.

Castle Hill is a hiker’s paradise with hiking circuits that wind through manicured gardens, lawns, and paths, each dappled with statuary, fountains, and reliefs. Stroll across our meadows, dip into our woodland trails and summit our sandy dunes. Visit CraneOutdoors for our offering of guided hikes, and check out our property-wide trail map if you plan to set out on your own.

Picnic at the edge of the Atlantic! Bring a picnic and a favorite blanket and you’ll be the envy of everyone you know on social media. A relaxing seaside meal with your loved ones cannot be beat!

Shop our amazing Gift Shop, which is open in-person anytime the Great House is open. Its wonderfully curated items, including snacks, mean that there is something for everyone. Take home a memento of your time visiting Castle Hill or a gift for a loved one. Get a preview by visiting our online shop.

Fill your social calendar with must-attend events! 

  • February: Celebrate the outdoors with Castle Hill by Firelight, a winter party full of firelight, good company, music, and hot toddies. This is a 21+ event.
  • March: Visit the Great House to get you thespian fix and take in Castle Hill’s latest theatrical production.
  • June-August: Experience Castle Hill after hours with themed cocktails, self-guided tours, and music at Cocktails at the Castle.
  • July – August: The summer isn’t complete without tickets to the Thursday evening Castle Hill Summer Concert Series.
  • August: The Roaring Twenties Lawn Party will sate you with jazz, dance lessons on the Grand Allèe, antique autos, and a vintage fair.
  • October: Car buffs and 20s enthusiasts alike will be transfixed by the Castle Hill Vintage Car Climb.
  • November: Art collectors and officiandos need look no farther than the yearly Crane Estate Art Show & Sale.
  • December: Christmas at Castle Hill is a tradition for many. It’s now expanded and runs throughout the month. Don’t miss the beautifully dressed rooms and holiday cheer.

There’s More! Check out the activities happening elsewhere at the Crane Estate. Crane Beach and the Crane Wildlife Refuge are teeming with activity, too, and adventures await.

We are looking forward to your visit. Too much to do? Plan to visit often!

Please note:
Beach access from Castle Hill is not permitted. Grounds admission and parking are reserved for cultural site visitors only.

Admission & Hours

Grounds Admission

  • Members: Free
  • Nonmembers:
    • Adult: $10
    • Children ages 6-14: $5
    • Children 5 & under: Free
  • Special admission categories:
    • Ipswich Residents:
      • Weekdays: Free w/valid Town resident sticker
      • Weekends: Nonmember fees apply
    • Free admission is offered to the following:
      • EBT, SNAP, WIC, or ConnectorCare cardholders (cardholder + family)
      • Massachusetts Teachers Association members with valid ID (limit 1)
      • NARM members (limit 2, must have valid membership card in hand)
      • AAM / NEMA / AASLH members with valid ID (limit 1)
      • HR Consortium staff with valid ID (limit 1)
      • GoPass holder (limit 2, must submit pass upon entry)
    • Half price admission:
      • Active or retired military (service member + family)

Advance passes for grounds admission to Castle Hill are suggested but not required. Advance grounds admission guarantees admission for the day and time of your visit. Admission is otherwise first come, first serve. We tend to sell out on weekends, holidays and other high traffic days.

Grounds passes are valid for a single entry during a three-hour time slot. When the house is open (see hours below), access is also granted to parts of the main floor of the Great House, use of its facilities and shopping at the Gift Shop.

Hours of Operation

  • The Great House is open:
    • June through October: Tuesday through Sunday, 10AM–4PM
    • April, May, and November: Weekends and holidays only
  • The Castle Hill Grounds and Gardens are open:
    • June through August:
      • Daily 9AM-5PM
      • Additional evening hours Wednesdays from 5-8PM
    • September through May:
      • Daily 9AM-5PM (closing at 4PM from November – January)

Tour the Great House and be transported back to 1929! See what it was to summer in Ipswich with the Crane family or take a tour to the roof and learn about the architecture and innovation contained within the Great House walls. Check out our tour options and availability. If you’re interested in a guided tour, their cost is inclusive of grounds admission.

Please note:
Beach access from Castle Hill is not permitted. Grounds admission and parking are reserved for cultural site visitors only

We are looking forward to your visit. Too much to do? Plan to visit often!

Directions & Contact Info

290 Argilla Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
Telephone: 978.356.4351
E-mail: castlehill@thetrustees.org

Get directions on Google Maps

From Rt. 128 North Exit 45B, take Rt. 1A North for 8 miles to Ipswich. Turn right onto Rt. 133 East and follow for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto Northgate Road and follow for 0.5 miles. Turn right onto Argilla Road and follow for 2.3 miles to the entrance on the left.

We look forward to your visit!

Facilities & Accessibility

The Castle Hill Gift Shop and indoor restrooms are open when the Great House is open. Portable restrooms are always available in the main parking lot and other locations around the property.

The Inn at Castle Hill offers overnight B&B accommodations. Check for special offers in connection with Great House events.

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible porta-potty is located in the main parking lot.
  • Wheelchair accessible ramp to enter the Great House (when it’s open) is located on the back of the house and can be found by moving from the forecourt around the right side of the house to the back.
  • Paved roads and smooth lawns are suitable for most wheelchairs in many (but not all) areas.

Venue Rental

Hold your wedding or special event at the Crane Estate. For further information, please visit this site or contact 781.221.3003.

Property Map

A map of Castle Hill is available in the brochures that are available in the main parking lot. You can also download a trail map before you head out.

Regulations & Advisories

The Crane Estate regulations are here. Additionally, please review the following:

  • Beach access from Castle Hill is not permitted. Parking is reserved for cultural site visitors only.
  • Dogs are never allowed on the grounds of Castle Hill. There is a limited dog season at Crane Beach.
  • Cycling of any kind is permitted only on paved and dirt roads.
  • Authorized seasonal bow hunting is allowed on this reservation for a limited number of hunters through a deer management program administered by The Trustees. Per MassWildlife regulations, hunting is permitted from the first Monday in October through December each year, from ½ hour before sunrise all day until ½ hour after sunset, Monday through Saturday. Signage is posted at the property listing safety precautions and requirements. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties. Any questions may be directed to the Trustees coastal ecologist via castlehill@thetrustees.org.

Photography

  • All portrait and commercial photography must be approved in advance. Please read the Crane Estate’s photography policy and booking instructions before planning a photo shoot.
  • Portrait photography is not permitted inside the Great House.
  • For commercial interests, please email castlehill@thetrustees.org.
  • Drone photography is not permitted except in rare circumstances and only with the authorization of the Director of the Crane Estate.
  • The Trustees of Reservations reserves the right, and may give permission to its designated photographers and videographers or outside media, to photograph or video visitors and program participants at all its facilities and properties. These photos and videos are for promotional purposes and may be used in future publications, marketing, and media communications. By utilizing Trustees properties or by participating in Trustees programs and events, you consent to the taking and publication of your photograph and video for these purposes. If we have used a photo or video of you that you would prefer not to have used, please contact us by email at marketing@thetrustees.org requesting that we remove the image, and we will be happy to take the photo or video down from our website and not use the photo in future print publications. Please be sure to fully describe the page and image, so we can identify it correctly.
Before Setting Out
More to Explore

Revitalized Gardens of The Trustees

Discover the revitalized public gardens and historic houses at two special places on the North Shore.

Discover
Upcoming Events

History of Castle Hill

For centuries, this dramatic coastscape served as seasonal fishing grounds for indigenous peoples 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.

Learn More
The View From Here
See What People Say

The Crane Estate is a wonderful, historical and very peaceful place. Catch a house tour in season, then a walk on the beach.

Bill H, Facebook

Discover More Places

Join the Trustees

Enjoy 120 sites featuring inspired trails, historic homes, beautiful gardens, farms, summer camps and more.
Become a Member

Lend a Hand

Join a community passionate about a sustainable future and engaged in diverse projects across the state.
Volunteer

Support Our Work

We rely on your generous support to protect the irreplaceable landscapes and landmarks of Massachusetts.
Donate