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Wander through an open field and enjoy a memorable view of the historic Paine House, with the broad estuary of the Ipswich River extending beyond.
What makes Greenwood Farm a special place?
The pasture that greets you at Greenwood Farm reveals little of the property’s splendor. At first, you only see fields cleared by generations of farmers, a stand of trees, and brambles entwined around a rock wall. After a short walk, the estate begins to reveal itself: several small structures and a root cellar appear, then a rambling clapboard farmhouse and the late First Period Paine House. It is the view of the marsh, however, that dominates the landscape.
The reservation takes its name from Thomas S. Greenwood who built the 19th-century white farmhouse. To its rear, the Paine House (1694), a yellow clapboard saltbox, is a remarkable example of First Period (1620–1725) architecture. Three generations of the Paine family made their home here, including Robert Paine, foreman of the Salem witch trial jury in 1692. From 1916, Greenwood Farm was a summer retreat for the Robert G. Dodge family, who used the Paine House as a guesthouse. Furnished with a fine collection of American furniture and decorative arts, it radiates with Colonial Revival ambiance. Recent archaeological investigations revealed a rare survival of an 18th-century milk room or dairy inside the house.
As you wander the reservation grounds on a typical summer day, you may see swallows, waxwings, and dragonflies swooping over the fields for small insects, or a red-tailed hawk riding high on a thermal. Great blue herons and snowy and American egrets wade through the marsh. Occasionally at dawn or dusk, the air quivers with the soft hooting of a great horned owl or the raspy bark of a red fox. Bobolinks nest in the fields.
The property includes several islands on the salt marsh, the three largest being Diamond Stage, Homestead, and Widow’s Island. The islands are drumlins created by the Wisconsin glacier more than 10,000 years ago. Access to the islands is prohibited to protect the salt marsh.
The channels through the marsh lead to the Ipswich River, which begins its journey to the sea 35 miles west in Burlington. In this area, flooded twice daily by the tides, blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) attach to rocks and soft-shelled clams (Mya arenaria) burrow in the mudflats. At low tide, green crabs (Carcinus maenus) emerge from burrows within the Spartina roots to prey on mussels and clams.
2.5 miles of trails. Easy walking.
When to Visit
Grounds: year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.
The Paine House is open for the program Ipswich is First Period every November. Please visit our “Things to Do” page for more details.