280 Argilla Road, the Inn at Castle Hill (1860)

Information is provided by the Trustees of Reservations

While their grand “Italian Villa” at the top of the hill was under construction from 1910–1912, Richard T. Crane, Jr., and his family spent summers in this cottage. The cottage was originally built as a farmhouse in the mid-1800s. In 1899, businessman John Burnham Brown inherited the property, complete with the house and outbuildings. Brown, who was president of the Chicago and Indiana Railroad, expanded the farmhouse into a larger “Shingle-style” home. He hired Boston landscape architect Ernest Bowditch to develop a road system and garden plans. This was typical of the American Country Place Era, when many industrialists converted farms into grand summer estates.

Early 20th Century photo by George Dexter

In 1910, Crane and his wife, Florence, purchased the property, which was advertised simply as “Ipswich Beach Farm.” That same year, the Cranes renovated the Brown Cottage, with their architects Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, so they could live there while their main house was being built. They renovated it again in 1917. The cottage later served as a guesthouse. It was frequently occupied by visiting family members, especially Mrs. Crane’s father, Harlow Niles Higinbotham of Chicago.

After the death of Mrs. Crane in 1949, son Cornelius Crane lived in the cottage with his wife, Miné. They renovated the house in 1958 and added the Colonial-style tavern building in 1959 as an additional space for entertaining. In 2000, The Trustees of Reservations restored the cottage and opened it as “The Inn at Castle Hill.” Here, guests once again enjoy summer-house living with glorious views across the marshes.

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