Crane Estate, Ipswich, Mass

Great House Entrance

Great House Entrance

It’s good to be in plumbing!  At least it was good for Robert Teller Crane, Jr.  Next time you’re in a water closet, look at the name on the fixtures.  RT Crane, Sr., founded a foundry in Chicago.  Upon his death and the split between his two sons, RT Crane, Jr. took over the helm and moved into the production of plumbing fixtures for the home.  Actually, the company had been producing plumbing fixtures since 1896, but the demand for indoor plumbing and more luxurious bathrooms took off in the 1920s.  RT Crane, Jr. was at the helm during this boon and saw to it that the company responded to this new market demand.  Having become quite wealthy as a result, he eventually purchased 165 acres in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  The property is now run by the Trustees and consists of two parts:  Castle Hill and a wildlife refuge.

We participants in the Cape Ann photo workshop visited Castle Hill and were able to walk around the grounds.  We did not go to the wildlife refuge part, however.  Crane hired the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted to design the villa, home to his family, complete with bachelor’s quarters for suitors for his daughter’s hand.  Rolling out from the villa is a vast lawn, lined with statuary, that extends to Plum Island Sound.  The property lies south of Plum Island itself, across the waters where the Parker River and the Ipswich River converge.  The property also boasts an Inn–The Inn at Castle Hill–which can be booked for weddings and other special events.  Several out buildings also dot the landscape, including a gazebo and extensive barn facility.  Some day I’d like to visit the wildlife refuge section, as well.

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