The Trustees Continue Extensive Landscape Restorations at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, a National Historic Landmark

First Phase of Italian Garden Restoration to be Complete Summer 2016

Contact Information

Kristi Perry
617.542.7696 x2123

Boston & Ipswich, MA – March 2016 – The Trustees today announced it is nearing the completion of the first phase of an important restoration project taking place in the Italian Garden at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, another project in its $26.6 million campaign to rejuvenate some of its most significant cultural sites. The Italian Garden, also referred to as the Formal Garden, was the first garden space commissioned by the Crane family, the former owners of the estate who bequeathed the property in 1949 to The Trustees. Castle Hill is a National Historic Landmark and represents one of the rare surviving, intact estates from the American Country Place Era.  

The Italian Garden was exquisitely designed in 1910 by the renowned landscape architectural firm, the Olmsted Brothers, to complement the original Italian manor on the property.  The $1 million restoration project includes two distinct phases. The first phase entails the restoration of the water feature, wooden pergola, and grass ramps, which are now complete, as well as the revival and reintroduction of two long perennial borders within the garden which are expected to be planted out by the end of May in time for house and garden tour season.  Over $450,000 has been raised for the first phase of the project. The Trustees are still actively seeking support for the second phase, which will include the restoration and reconstruction of the majority the concrete and masonry elements of the garden, the cast iron gates, and a rustic pergola at the east end of the garden.

The Italian Garden restoration is part of an ongoing, extensive, nearly $3 million landscape preservation effort The Trustees have been undertaking at Castle Hill over the past five years to restore key structural, decorative, and landscape features on the property to their former brilliance.  The first project included the massive 2012 restoration of the Grand Allée, one of the largest landscape features of its kind in North America modeled after the beautiful Italian and French gardens of Renaissance Europe.  The second project included the 2015 restoration of the Casino Complex, a former pool and entertainment venue enjoyed by the Crane family. Since acquiring Castle Hill from the Crane family, The Trustees has carried on the family’s legacy of entertainment, culture, and recreation on the property, using both the Grand Allée and Casino as a popular setting for hundreds of open-air concerts, weddings, historic house and landscape tours, community events, a children’s summer camp, and other outdoor programs held year-round at the Estate.  The Italian Garden is another important venue and programming space that, once complete, will open up even more opportunities for visitors to enjoy and learn about this important site.

“The national significance of Castle Hill on the Crane Estate and its iconic landscape and architectural features illustrates the importance of our role in its ongoing care and preservation,” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees of Reservations President and CEO. “The revival of the Italian Garden marks a significant next step in our continued restoration work at this dynamic and beloved place. We could not continue to accomplish these critical projects, however, without the support of so many generous donors or the expertise of our talented staff.  We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to experience and explore the property this spring and see the incredible transformation that continues to take place on the grounds.”

Trustees cultural resource staff and experts have spent years culling through original documents, drawings, photos and design plans to research, plan, and execute the garden, landscape, architectural, and structural restorations at Castle Hill.  “Our intention with the Italian Garden project, as with other restorations we’ve conducted on the estate, is to both preserve the historic integrity of the designed features and engage our visitors and supporters in the process,” adds Bob Murray Capital Projects Manager.  “We look forward to having our work serve as an inspiration and a learning lab for those interested in sustainable restoration.”

Caring for the 2,100-acre Crane Estate property is continuous. 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 Italian Garden, Grand Allée, and Casino restoration effort, however, represent one of the broadest, most expansive restoration and fundraising efforts ever undertaken on the property. The Trustees welcome additional donations to support the second phase of the Italian Garden project as well as continued preservation efforts on the property. To learn more about how you can support this important project, please contact Denise Trapani at  


More about the Crane Estate: The Crane Estate is the crown jewel in The Trustees’ collection of 114 properties located throughout the Commonwealth, twenty of which are located on Boston’s North Shore.  The 2,100 acre Estate consists of Castle Hill – which includes the Crane mansion or "Great House" and the Inn at Castle Hill – as well as Crane Beach and The Crane Wildlife Refuge was owned by Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr. who purchased the property in 1910 because he was captivated by the beauty of the landscape. Over time he 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 welcomes over 300,000 visitors from near and far and offers year-round educational and cultural programs and activities, including SummerQuest, recognized as one of Massachusetts’ best summer programs for children, and  private functions. 

The Trustees preserves and cares for some of Massachusetts’ most treasured natural, scenic, and historic sites for public use and enjoyment. Founded in 1891 and celebrating our 125th Anniversary in May 2016, we are the world’s first land preservation nonprofit and the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization. We believe in protecting the irreplaceable for everyone, forever.  Our passion is to connect more people to outdoor recreation, culture, agriculture, and healthy, active living by using our 114 diverse properties, community spaces, and over 3,500 annual programs as a powerful and compelling platform.  Located within minutes of every resident and visited by 1.6 million people in 2015, our properties span more than 26,000 acres across the state – from working farms, landscaped and urban gardens, and community parks, to barrier beaches, forests, campgrounds, inns and historic sites, many of which are National Historic Landmarks. In addition to our properties, we are also an active leader in land conservation. We hold conservation restrictions on more than 20,000 acres and have worked with community partners to help protect another 25,000 acres across the state. In 2014 we became a founding partner of the Boston Public Market, the first all locally-sourced indoor market of its kind in the nation where we operate our Appleton Farms vendor booth and serve as the educational programming partner for the Market’s demonstration KITCHEN.  Funded by our nearly 125,000 members and supporters, we invite you to get out, get inspired, and find magic in the moment at a Trustees property near you: