Entrance to Castle Hill Estate
Entrance to Castle Hill Estate, Ipswich, MA
Ernest W. Bowditch, Landscape Gardener
Crane Family Collection (1873-2011), The Trustees
Ernest William Bowditch (1850-1913) was born in Brookline, MA, and a graduate of MIT in 1869 with a degree in engineering. He worked for the firm of Shedd & Sawyer before moving on to the office of landscape gardener Robert Morris Copeland in 1871. Bowditch would later take over the firm, and for the next 40 years would work on over 2,500 projects.
Bowditch was first hired by John Burnham Brown (then the owner) to do a topographical survey of Castle Hill in 1886. Between the years of 1886-1888, Bowditch worked on designing a road system that incorporated the property’s beautiful views into the landscape design. Bowditch designed the road system to go from the Brown Cottage up to the top of Castle Hill and back down. The land at the time was known as Castle Hill Farm; Bowditch dropped the word “farm” as it was transitioning to a gentleman’s farm and pleasure ground. In his design he also included plantings, stone walls, an entrance road, and circuit roads.
This entrance plan drawing shows the tree lined avenue leading to the farm buildings with a small island to drive around and an elm tree planted in the middle. There are also markings for a new stone wall and bank walls to be built near the farm outbuildings. While there have been some adjustments over the years, Bowditch’s road system is largely intact today. The collection also contains photographs of the actual landscape as it was realized from this conceptual drawing.