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Ipswich, MA – August 2014 – The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), the oldest regional land trust and one of Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation organizations, is in the process of completing the third and final phase of an important four-year, multi-million dollar landscape and hardscape restoration of Castle Hill’s Grand Allée in Ipswich.
Thanks to the dedication and expertise of talented staff, experts and generous supporters, the final phase of The Trustees’ extensive restoration project at this National Historic Landmark property entails restoring the Casino Complex – a former pool and entertainment space used by the Crane family. Since 1949, when the Crane family gifted Castle Hill to The Trustees, the Allée and its Casino have become a popular backdrop for open-air concerts, weddings, historic house and landscape tours, community events, a children’s summer camp, and other recreational activities held year-round.
“We are thrilled to be in the final stages of this important restoration and are so grateful to the many supporters who have helped us bring the project to fruition,” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees of Reservations President and CEO. “We look forward to sharing the careful work that has gone into preserving the architectural integrity of this iconic landscape with our visitors and supporters and introducing the restored Casino as a new venue space on the property.”
The Allée is one of the largest landscape features created by renowned Boston landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff who modeled the dramatic design after the beautiful Italian and French gardens of Renaissance Europe. The Casino – Italian for “little house” and a term used for centuries to describe small dwellings in gardens and landscapes that surround a villa – was a great collaboration between Shurcliff and the renowned Boston architectural firm Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. Designed to be strategically situated away from and out of the sightline of the house so it would not block the sweeping ocean views, the Casino represents the most distinctive Italian Renaissance Revival-style architecture surviving from this period on the Estate. It originally featured a saltwater pool framed by trees, potted plants and statuaries and was flanked by two pavilions containing a former bachelor’s quarters (or, guest accommodations) on one side and a billiard hall and living area on the other.
After nearly a century in its seaside location, the building fabric and structural elements of the Casino Complex have suffered from years of exposure to the elements, leading to a compromised structure that was eventually closed to the public in the 1990’s. Since 1998, The Trustees have worked to restore many architectural and decorative elements, preserving as much of the original site materials as possible. Now, with the help of generous donors and grant funders, the organization is poised to complete the work on the former pool area and pavilions this fall, carrying on another important aspect of the legacy left to them by the Crane family at this historic site.
To preserve the integrity of the Casino during the restoration, The Trustees’ cultural resources experts have carefully culled original documents, drawings, photos and design plans wherever possible, adding to the information gleaned from the on-site remains. Important project elements include restoring the beautiful marble pavers and herringbone brick pathways framing the pool, as well as the statuary, urns, and other decorative elements that once adorned this elegant space. Adding yet another element of authenticity to the restoration, Bob Shure of Skylight Studios and Giust Gallery in Woburn, owner of the original Caproni Brothers’ collection of sculpture molds used to cast reproduction statuary based on European models, will be re-casting several of the Casino’s original statuary for the niches of the pavilion façades.
“The restoration of the Allée, and now the final pièce de résistance, the Casino Complex, serves as a living laboratory, modeling a thoughtful, sustainable stewardship approach while preserving the historic integrity of this important National Historic Landmark,” adds Bob Murray, Northeast Operations Manager and Project Manager.
The restoration project has been undertaken in memory of the late David Crockett, a former member of The Trustees of Reservations’ Board of Governors and Ipswich resident whose tireless efforts on behalf of Castle Hill and the Crane Estate were critical in preserving this property. His commitment to the care of the Crane family’s extraordinary gift to The Trustees set the standard by which the property has been – and will continue to be – privately managed for the public to enjoy.
Caring for the 2,100-acre Crane Estate property is ongoing. Over the years, The Trustees have conducted extensive restoration of other interior and exterior features of the Great House and surrounding landscape features on Castle Hill. The Allée restoration effort, however, represents one of the broadest, most expansive restoration and fundraising efforts ever undertaken on the property. The Trustees welcome additional donations to complete the project. All donations are being matched by a generous donor, making individual support go twice as far. To donate, click here.
More About the Crane Estate
The crown jewel in its collection of 112 properties located throughout the Commonwealth twenty of which are located on Boston’s North Shore. The Crane Estate – consisting of Castle Hill –which includes the Crane mansion or "Great House" and the Inn at Castle Hill, Crane Beach, and The Crane Wildlife Refuge – is one of only a few remaining estates intact from the Country Place Era. Like any National Historic Landmark, Castle Hill requires ongoing care and maintenance so that it can continue to be enjoyed by thousands of visitors from New England and beyond each year.
Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr., purchased approximately 1,380 acres in 1910, the beginning of what would become the Crane Estate. A contemporary and friend of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Crane was captivated by the beauty of the landscape, and, over time, worked with eight leading architects, landscape architects, and artists to shape his summer family retreat. In 1928, he crowned the estate with a grand mansion designed by renowned Chicago architect David Adler. Today, the Crane Estate encompasses 2,100 acres, and is open to the public, offering educational and cultural programs and activities, including SummerQuest, recognized as one of Massachusetts’ best summer programs for children. The Crane Estate also offers opportunities for year-round recreation and wonderful sites for private functions.
About The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) “hold in trust” and care for properties, or “reservations,” of irreplaceable scenic, cultural, and natural significance for the general public to enjoy. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees is the world’s oldest regional land trust and one of Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation non profits. Supported by more than 100,000 members and donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 112 spectacular reservations including working farms, historic homesteads and landscaped gardens, community parks, barrier beaches, mountain vistas and woodland trials located on more than 26,000 acres throughout the Commonwealth. An established leader in the conservation and preservation movement and worldwide, The Trustees have also worked with community partners to protect an additional 34,000 acres. With hundreds of outreach programs, workshops, camps, concerts and events annually designed to engage all ages in its mission, The Trustees invite you to Find Your Place and get out and experience the natural beauty and culture our state has to offer. For more information, visit: www.thetrustees.org.