The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) announced the completion of a three-year, sustainable landscape restoration of the Crane Estate’s “Grand Allée” located on Castle Hill – a National Historic Landmark – in Ipswich. Thanks to the generosity and hard work of talented staff, community partners, donors, and volunteers, The Trustees were able to carefully remove and replant more than 700 deteriorating, overgrown trees; reinvigorate an underground, rainwater collection cistern for sustainable irrigation; and restore the beautiful, classical sculptures lining the undulating, half-mile-long, “front lawn” of the Crane Estate. Since 1949, when the Crane family gifted Castle Hill to The Trustees, the Allée has become a popular and impressive 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 at the Crane Estate. Now, this signature landscape feature once again sweeps to a panoramic view of Cape Ann and benefits from a healthier, more sustainably managed landscape.
The Grand Allée is the only known, designed landscape of its size and kind still in existence in North America – and one of only a few remaining worldwide – combining grand scale with decorative arts. It is one of the largest landscape features created by renowned Boston landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff, who is best known for his design of Colonial Williamsburg and the Charles River Esplanade. Shurcliff modeled the dramatic design after the beautiful Italian and French gardens of Renaissance Europe.
The restoration project was completed in memory of 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. The photo below shows the area circa 1930.
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, including the Bowling Green, which was awarded $50,000 from The National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express Partners in Preservation program. The Allée restoration effort, however, represents one of the broadest, most expansive restoration and fundraising efforts ever undertaken on the property. In 2010, The Trustees launched a $2 million dollar campaign to restore this historically significant feature and 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, please visit http://www.thetrustees.org/alleeproject.