Design snapshot: Crane Estate landscape from Castle Hill

The view above is to the southwest from the Olmsted-designed original approach to the Great House on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Mass. The marshlands and distant red structure are glimpsed off to the side as the driveway climbs Castle Hill. This tempting vista is a precursor to the ultimate sweeping Bay view that the Olmsted Brothers intended to be revealed only upon arrival in the Great House. Today, most visitors exit the Great House on this driveway instead of arriving on it and thus miss out on the Olmsteds’ intention. That is, unless they participate in one of the Historic Landscape Tours of Castle Hill offered through The Trustees of Reservations as I did last weekend. Our guide led us up the original approach on foot and shared the story of the dramatic procession as the Olmsted Brothers conceived it. This is but one of the stunning landscapes to be appreciated on the property. The Grand Allee designed by Arthur Shurcliff, and visible from the Great House, may be the most notable, but there are plenty of other gems to be admired as well.

This Saturday will be the last Historic Landscape Tour for the season, but the grounds are open daily year-round for self-guided exploration. On Saturday, October 18 the Crane Wildlife Refuge is inviting visitors to participate in Return to the Island which includes a hike on Choate Island past the c. 1725 Choate House and the Crane’s White Cottage. Reservations are required.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast