Richard T. Crane, Jr., an early 20th-century plumbing magnate from Chicago, purchased the land that would become the Crane Estate between 1909 and 1927, eventually acquiring over 3500 acres. The property is located on Ipswich Bay at the mouth of the Ipswich River in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Crane hired the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, to design the landscaping for the estate, consult on the road system, and determine the location for the house.
The first mansion, the garage, and chauffeur’s quarters were built between 1910 and 1912. The original manor was designed by the Boston architecture firm Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and was not liked by Florence, Crane’s wife. She felt it was cold and drafty and called it “too atrocious.” Crane asked her to give it ten years and see if she still didn’t like it; they would tear it down and replace it. Between 1913 and 1920, more buildings were completed, including; the casino, farm complex, mall, and maze. Keeping his promise to his wife, Crane had the original Crane mansion demolished in 1924.It was replaced by a 59-room mansion known as the “Great House,” designed by architect David Adler. The Great House was built to resemble a 17th Century English country house. Florence Crane loved the new home and spent every summer there until she died in 1949. The Great House on the Crane Estate and is a National Historic Landmark. It is owned by the Trustees of Reservations, the oldest land trust in the world and a non-profit. The Trustees were given the land beginning in 1945. The grounds are open all year for people to walk around, and private events, such as weddings, are held.