The Trustees Purchases Steep Hill Parcel, Permanently Protecting a 20.5 Acre Inholding in Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

“Complete the Beach” Fundraising Campaign Raises Nearly $1.9 Million Thanks to the Generous Support of Nearly 650 Donors from 119 Communities Ranging from Ipswich to San Francisco, Fundraising Continues To Replenish Internal Fund

Contact Information

Kristi Perry
PR Director
617.542.7696 x2123

Boston & Ipswich, MA – September 29, 2016 – The Trustees of Reservations today announced it has purchased a scenic and ecologically important 20.5 acre parcel inholding at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, known as the Steep Hill tract, thanks to the collaboration and generosity of hundreds of Trustees donors, members, staff and community supporters.  Many years ago, the Crane family generously left their iconic 2,100-acre property to The Trustees to care for and preserve in perpetuity for the public to enjoy, but the Steep Hill parcel was left unprotected and developable.  The opportunity to purchase the property came about quickly with a short deadline. The Trustees devoted considerable time and resources to creating a fast-paced campaign to rally support around saving this critical land.

“This acquisition is a huge win for conservation on Boston’s pristine North Shore and for The Trustees in protecting the important legacy of the Crane Family at this iconic National Historic Landmark here in Ipswich,” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees President and CEO.  “It also celebrates the way a large group of dedicated individuals can come together around an important conservation project in an increasingly challenging market. We are delighted to have been able to raise over 75% of our goal in a few short months and could not have achieved this milestone without the commitment and generosity of so many donors, staff, volunteers and community partners across the Commonwealth and beyond. We are eternally grateful.” 

The Trustees’ campaign to protect the Steep Hill parcel was launched mid summer. The conservation effort was designed to not only protect important habitat but also to preserve the pristine beauty and serenity that visitors experience at the Crane Estate.  The Trustees received an anonymous matching challenge of up to $500,000 to kick start the campaign. In just a few short months, The Trustees have been able to raise nearly $1.9 million toward the $2.5 million goal to purchase this parcel thanks to the many people who contributed. As part of a multi-pronged campaign, Trustees’ board members supported the fundraising campaign with nearly 100% participation, volunteer ambassadors wrote numerous letters to friends and neighbors canvassing the North Shore, and a local phone-a-thon reached more than 1,700 people to raise awareness for and support of this critical land protection effort. 

“The success of this land conservation milestone is a true testament to our local and statewide supporters who worked together to achieve significant progress in a short period of time,” adds Julie Ann Grant, Associate Director of Development. “This is an example of a highly collaborative, member-driven effort. We are grateful to our friends in the community, the press, and neighboring towns that cared enough about the long-term health of the entire Crane Estate and The Trustees’ mission.”

To meet the remainder of the fundraising goal in time for the closing, The Trustees made a one-time, rare loan to itself from reserves that must be replenished.  In order to do that the Trustees are still actively fundraising and encouraging people to make gifts to the Conservation Fund, which covers a broad range of land acquisition and stewardship activities.  For more information, please email or visit 

More Background on the Significance of the Steep Hill ParcelFor decades The Trustees has been interested in acquiring this unprotected parcel of land on Castle Hill, which abuts the recently restored Grand Allée and includes wooded paths, fields, scrubland, and nearly 1,000 feet of frontage on Steep Hill Beach adjacent to Crane Beach. It also hosts a maritime scrubland natural community that has been designated by the state as a high priority and it is part of an area delineated by the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program as BioMap2 Core habitat. The beach’s relative isolation offers a refuge for both feeding shorebirds, including endangered piping plovers, and visitors seeking a more private experience with nature. Looking ahead, keeping Steep Hill natural and undeveloped will also be important in buffering the Crane Estate against future sea-level rise. Its large boulders can also help mitigate severe erosion that is expected to increase along coastline properties. If left unprotected, the Steep Hill parcel could have been developed with one or more private homes embedded in Castle Hill, looming over the Grand Allée, Steep Hill Beach, and Crane Beach, compromising the important ecological habitat and coastline and potentially marring the magnificent view at this iconic National Historic Landmark.  In addition, the lot came with an access easement over Trustees land which, if developed, would have allowed private traffic to travel through the otherwise restricted and bucolic roads of Castle Hill.


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 116 diverse properties, community spaces, and over 4,100 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: