Susan Hill Dolan Shares the Elegance of Castle Hill
On September 30, 2021, Susan Hill Dolan, Curator of Ipswich Properties for the Trustees of Reservations, led us through a fascinating tour of Castle Hill on the Crane Estate. Castle Hill is a National Historic Landmark that lies amidst 2,100 acres of protected shoreline and saltmarsh.
“What makes Castle Hill a national treasure is that it is one of the most intact country place era estates left from the early 20th century,” Susan shared. A Country Place Era estate, Castle Hill was once the summer home of plumbing magnate Richard Teller Crane, Jr., heir to Crane Co. of Chicago, and his family. The Cranes hired some of the most renowned architects, landscape architects, and artists of the era to design the house and grounds, including David Adler, Arthur Shurcliff, and the Olmsted Brothers. The family gifted the house to the Trustees in 1949.
Susan began the tour outside of the south-facing façade, which David Adler modeled after Belton House in Lincolnshire. The north façade mimics Ham House in Surrey and features gryphon sculptures by Paul Manship.
Susan then led us through the elegant decor of the Drawing Room, through the Rotunda, and into the Library. One of the “stars” of the house is the Library’s Baroque overmantel carving by Grinling Gibbons. The Cranes purchased the ornamental woodwork and adjacent bookshelves from Cassiobury Park in Hertfordshire.
Castle Hill’s Dining Room uses a stunning green-on-green theme, a color that Susan explained was based on paint analysis. The Crane family recently gifted the Regency pedestal dining table and 12 chairs seen here.
After peeking in the Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen, we headed upstairs to the enfilade of rooms leading to bedroom suites for Mr. and Mrs. Crane, daughter Florence, and son Cornelius. Striking textiles, historic bathroom tile and fixtures, and family paintings and photographs added a special resonance to the tour.
Our journey concluded on the balcony overlooking the Grand Allez, the rolling lawn. Our view was a bit foggy, so you’ll have to make a trip in person to experience the spectacular vista down to the sea!
Experience the wonders of Castle Hill in this virtual tour program recording:
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Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.