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Visiting Castle Hill on the Crane Estate: The Ultimate Day Trip

Backside of the Great House at Crane Estate

Let's Talk about the GROUNDS

Flora

Across the Crane Estate’s grounds, it’s impossible for the impeccable landscaping to go unnoticed. Notably, the diversity of flora is quite impressive. As a visitor, it’s easy to see that the landscaping is top priority, and honestly portrays itself as a work of art. During my visit, I witnessed several different volunteers landscaping. They all appeared to be laser focused, and passionate about the task at hand. It put a smile on my face to see how much they enjoyed themselves. I found the prettiest flowers to be located at the Italian garden. According to Americangardening.net, this garden was both the first and most  elaborate created by the Cranes, and designed by the Olmsted firm in Brookline. Some of the flowers I observed include several colors of Hydrangeas, Larkspur, Shasta Daises, Beebalms, Cone Flowers and many more! I’d reccommend visiting just to experience the beautiful flowers. 

The Italian Garden

At the Italian garden, you will notice the intricate stone work, whimsical statues and gorgeous fountain. For the early 1900s, you can tell how exquisite this garden was for the times. Today, in 2019, it is still impressive so I can only imagine. I could honestly spend all day here. 

Fountain in the Italian Garden

The Rollings Hills

The Grand Allée on the Crane Estate

By far, the show stopper at the Crane Estate are the rolling hills. Called the Grand Allée , the hills are lined by tall shrubbery and classical statues. Walking this half mile stretch, you feel like you’re in a whole different world. The grounds emit rich and regal vibes. I’ve never experience such a perfectly crafted landscape setting. Once you see the insane detail in the architecture and design of Mr. Crane’s Great House, it’s no surprise this transcends into the landscape. It’s truly a spectacle.

Before you reach the very end of rolling hills, be sure to take a minute to observe the Casino Complex. The Casino Complex is located on the backside of the first rolling hill, of the Grand Allée. It is that of an Italian courtyard. Again, you witness the intricate architecture and statues. According to Back in the day, Harvardmagazine.com, this complex once featured a saltwater swimming pool. At each end of the pool, and even discussed on the house tour I took (more to come later in this blog) there were two villas. One was a ballroom and the other was the Bachelors Quarters, as unmarried men where not allowed to sleep in the same house as unmarried women. 

What a View!

Trust me, the half mile walk down the Grand Allée is well worth it. Once you reach the very end, you find yourself on a cliff overlooking a breathtaking view. I noticed sandbars, as it was low tide, that would be such a fun place to kayak out to. Walking towards the edge, you can see Crane Beach to right and left. The beach has beautiful white sands, and seems to be a hit for both locals and tourists. 

Brb, Moving into the Mansion

At the Front of the Great House

The Great House, or what I consider a mansion, is a work of art. The house sits on the highest point of Ipswich, located within the 165-acre Crane Estate. Built on the property Richard T. Crane, Jr. purchased in 1910, the English-style mansion features 59 rooms…incredible for a house built in 1928. Not to mention, that this was ONLY Richard Crane’s summer home. Can you imagine? He primarily resided in Chicago, but also had a home on Jekyll Island in Georgia. A little back story on Richard T. Crane Jr., he found his fortunes after inheriting his father’s company, R. T. Crane and Brother, that specialized in manufacturing brass goods and plumbing supplies. Once Richard T. Crane, Jr. took over, they really focused on bathroom fixtures.

A Cupola with a View Tour

Although the first floor of the Great House is self-guided, I highly recommend taking a tour, which is beyond fun and informational. That’s the only way you’ll be able to see certain rooms upstairs and throughout the house. Side Note: Be prepared on the weekends however, that the house might be closed to the public due to a wedding or event. That’s happened to me in the past. There are several different tours you can take, to discover what tour you’re interested in, and when it takes place, you can browse them here.

After reading through the description of each tour, I immediately knew I wanted to embark on A Cupola with a View Tour. For members, it costs $10 a person, $20 for non-members. The tour’s duration is anywhere from 45-60 minutes. I had an amazing and thorough tour guide, so the tour went over an hour! Per the tour’s description, the main moment of the tour is traveling up a spiral staircase to the cupola and our onto the Great House’s roof to take in expansive views. Once I took the tour, I was pleasantly surprised that the tour also went through different rooms in the house not just the cupola and roof. Check out the slideshow below to get a glimpse into the rooms I toured. 

A big chunk of the tour focused on Rochard T. Crane, Jr.’s son Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane. As an explorer and philanthropist, Cornelius’ passion was sailing. This passion was expressed through a ship model seen on the tour that he received as a 21st birthday present; as well as his “man cave” which was where he mapped out all his sailing routes. 

Traveling through Cornelius’ quarters, was mind-blowing. His quarters includes a state-of-the-art (at the time) bathroom, bedroom, screened in porch, two staircases, a large “man-cave” and access to the Cupola/roof. 

Hands-down the best part of the tour, was climbing up the spiral staircase, through the cupola and onto the roof. As you can see below, the views were beyond incredible. I achieved a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Allée, Crane Beach and the Salt March. I was able to gain a new perspective and see for miles further than I was able to when just simply walking the grounds on foot. I am telling you, this tour is a can’t miss!!

Panoramic View from the Roof

Views of Crane Beach from the Backside of the Great House

The Salt Marsh Views from the Front of the Great House
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(4) Comments

  1. Diane says:

    Great read I want to go someday. What a beautiful place the landscaping is gorgeous

    1. livinglikeliv says:

      Such a great day trip for you, Chris and the kids 🙂

  2. Cheryl says:

    I am putting this on my list of places to go! Looks wonderful.

    1. livinglikeliv says:

      1000% Recommend! It’s like a whole new world! Thanks for reading, hope you subscribe 🙂

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