- Address: Argilla Road,
Ipswich, Massachusetts, 01938
- Website: www.craneestate.org
- Hours: Open year-round, daily, 8am to sunset (the grounds immediately surrounding the Great House are closed during private functions; please call ahead to inquire).
Great House: open seasonally for guided tours. Allow a minimum of 2.5 hours (including Great House or landscape tour), 6.5 hours if also visiting Crane Beach and the Crane Wildlife Refuge.
- Map: Map
- Trail: The Early Settlement Trail
Photo Credit: (c) TTOR / Michael Triff
Castle Hill, Crane Beach and the Crane Wildlife Refuge comprises more than 2,000 acres along the Essex and Ipswich River estuaries. All are open to the public year round for outdoor study, leisure and recreation. Together, these unique landscapes once formed the early 20th century summer country estate of Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr. and his family. The 59-room Stuart-style mansion known as The Great House rests high atop Castle Hill.
Nearby Area Sites
- Appleton Farms
Established in 1638, the farm offers such recreational activities as picnicking, horseback riding, bird watching, cross-country skiing and hiking.
- Choate Island
Protected and overseen by The Trustees of Reservations, people can now cruise to Choate Island, also known as Hog Island, to view the Crane Wildlife refuge and historic Choate Farm and experience an abundance nature, sightseeing and bird watching.
- Crane Beach & Castle Hill
Comprising more than 2,000 acres, the estate is open to the public year round for outdoor study, leisure and recreation.
- Hall-Haskell House
This officially designated ENHC Visitor Center offers information on Ipswich and the surrounding towns.
- Hamlin Reservation
Hamlin Reservation's gently rolling fields and marsh meadows - today home to bobolinks and small mammals - were once active farmland.
- Heard House
Built in 1795, the historic house mingles Western and Asian cultures in an atmosphere of the China trade years.
- Paine House & Greenwood Farm
Located on a peninsula on the Ipswich River Estuary, Greenwood Farm comprises pastures, meadow, woodlands, salt marsh, and three tidal islands: Diamond Stage, Widow's, and Homestead.
- Whipple House Museum
Retains much of its original oak, pine and chestnut framework and offers an exceptional look at the domestic surroundings of early New England colonists.
- The Inn at Castle Hill
The Inn at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate invites you to return to an age of innocent pursuits. Step into a timeless place of understated elegance and serenity. Located in the heart of the spectacular Crane Estate, enjoy simple, yet luxurious pleasures, and reconnect with what's really important in life. Snug beds, hearty meals, and a warm and generous staff anticipate your arrival.
Learn more about art in Ipswich at ipswicharts.com.
Ipswich FarmsENHA Farm Guide
- Appleton Farms, 219 County Road, Ipswich MA 01938, (978) 356-5728
- Completely Clematis, 217 Argilla Rd, Ipswich MA 01938, (978) 356-3197
- Gordon Florist & Greenhouses, Inc., 24 Essex Road, Ipswich MA 01938, (978) 356-2955
- Marini Farm, 259 Linebrook Road, Ipswich MA 01938, (978) 356-0430
- McHugh's Farm, 439 Linebrook Road, Ipswich MA 01938, (978) 356-4298
- Russell Orchards Farm and Winery, Ipswich MA 01938, (978) 356-5366 [Top]
Ipswich’s distinctive inland and coastal landscape features, particularly the expansive marshland, were instrumental in shaping the history of the community from the earliest Native American use of the land to the present day.
Ipswich is one of the few Essex County towns where there are confirmed Native American sites of the Pawtucket group (locally known as Agawams) along the coast. European settlement began in 1633 at Jeffrey’s Neck and the town of Ipswich was incorporated in 1634. The first meetinghouse was constructed in 1635. Meetinghouses in several other locations were established soon thereafter, most of which became parts of other municipalities in later years. The first meetinghouse green has remained the focus of the town’s civic center throughout the community’s history.
Agriculture, fishing and shipping were all important contributors to the early economic base. Agriculture continued throughout three centuries, evidenced by Appleton Farm where the same family farmed from 1638 until the late 1990s. In the 19th century, maritime industries in Ipswich were eclipsed by Newburyport, Gloucester and Salem mostly due to the lack of a deep water port at Ipswich. In the first quarter of the 19th century there was a shift in industrial development to textiles, lace production and shoe making, the latter two as cottage industries. However the lace industry collapsed in the 1830s and some of the small shops turned to stocking manufacturing under the name of Ipswich Mills which became the Ipswich Hosiery Mills in the late 19th century until its closing in 1928. Some shoe and other hosiery manufacturers continued into the 1950s.
Major transportation routes were established in the 17th century along Native American trails. The north-south route was along High Street and County Road from the late 1600s. Topsfield Road was an east-west route laid out by 1717. The Ipswich Turnpike (1A) opened in 1803 and the Newburyport Turnpike (Rt. 1) came soon after in 1806. Stage travel connected Ipswich with Boston until the advent of the Eastern Railroad in 1839 connecting Ipswich with Salem, Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire with a depot at Market and Winter Streets. Bridges were important links connecting the various parts of town split by the rivers. From 1900 to 1919 the Boston & Northern Electric Street Railway brought workers to the mills. Ipswich was bypassed by the Rt. 128 construction and later by Rt. 95, but the Boston to Portsmouth line of the Boston & Maine Railroad remained active until 1968.
The population of Ipswich in the 1700s was high with just over 4,500 persons in 1775. The town ranked second in wealth in Essex County at that time. However, this changed significantly by 1830 with a decline in population to 2,949 residents. It is likely that this was in part due to four annexations of parts of the early Ipswich to other towns between the American Revolution and the 1820s. There was a substantial rise in the population between 1870 and 1915 when the number of residents nearly doubled to 6,272 persons. Immigrants were Irish, English and French Canadians followed by Poles and Greeks all who came to work in the textile mills. During the late 20th century the population doubled to 13,085. Ipswich Reconnaisance Report, Essex County Landscape Inventory, Massachusetts Heritage Landscape Inventory Program (pdf document)