The Crane Estate in Ipswich, with its grand, rolling lawn, sweeping ocean views, classically designed gardens, impressive mansion, and acres of beautiful oceanfront doesn’t exactly scream “high tech.” In fact, you’d be forgiven if you’d like to leave your smartphone in the car and forget the modern world altogether while you discover its vast beauty.
But this time, we’re going to tell you to take your phone with you. That’s because The Trustees have launched a new smartphone app that brings visitors closer to the Crane Estate than ever before. The free app, TourTrustees: Castle Hill, transforms your phone into your very own private tour guide for exploring the Crane Estate.
The app provides an extensive audio tour, walking visitors through the property and pausing along the way to learn about everything from life and work of the estate’s architect, David Adler; to the original vision for the rolling lawn that is now the Grand Allée (it was first going to be a hayfield); to the fact that the Cranes were one of the first families on Argilla Road to have a car.
The app also introduces visitors to some of the colorful characters who lived or worked on the Crane Estate during its heyday. We hear about “adventures with Chauffer Stuart McRobbie” from the perspective of 14-year-old friend of the family, who recalls a day in 1920; and the words of the celebrated rosarian, Harriet Risley Foote, who the family enlisted for her expert garden design.
We also meet the Crane family themselves, with detailed biographies and photos of the family members, including the South Pacific explorer Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane and Florence Higinbotham Crane, who found the estate’s original Italian Renaissance Revival villa cold and drafty, resulting in the current Stuart-style mansion being built in its place.
The app offers a 40-minute tour of the Great House, forecourt, and gardens, as well as an Extended Estate Tour, which takes visitors further afield to the sites around the main house and gardens. Historic images, trail maps, and general information about the Trustees is also available on the app.
According to Kristen Swanberg, director of public programming and education for The Trustees of Reservations, the TourTrustees app will likely expand in the future with other properties, so stay tuned. In the meantime, Trustees visitors can also use their smartphones to explore with Go Trustees, another free app that allows users to search by Zip code for nearby Trustees properties, get integrated driving directions, access GPS-powered, color-coded trail maps, and provide live, local weather updates.