Located in Topsfield, Massachusetts, the Bradley Palmer Mansion is a unique Craftsman and Tudor Revival Stone structure, commissioned in the early 1900’s. Bradley Palmer, a noted attorney of the early 20th century, spent a good deal of time deciding where to build his “modest cottage” and settled on the affluent town of Topsfield, where there was plenty of land to exercise his horses. The architect was Charles Amos Cummings who also designed Cyclorama building of South Boston. Palmer drew his inspiration for the house from the Mansions and Castles of Aberdeen in Scotland. He incorporated motifs from the Medieval Period into the Arts and Crafts style- creating a very eclectic home.
The house features the original red slate roof, original leaded stained glass windows, stone-carved fireplaces, images of Knights and Kings, and intricate wood molding. There is a strong equestrian theme throughout the house through carved and glass imagery, quotations and even the layout of the house is in a horseshoe shape.
From 1937 to 1944, Palmer donated all of his land holdings “to the people of Massachusetts as a place to enjoy the peace and beauty of river, woods, fields, and hills.” He transferred all ownership of his properties to the State with the stipulation that he would lease back 107 acres including his mansion – for the remainder of his days. The Bradley Palmer State Park continues Mr. Palmer’s legacy of conservation and every year is enjoyed by thousands of equestrians and outdoor enthusiasts.
The house is currently owned by the State of Massachusetts and is being restored and leased as part of DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program. The Curators signed a fifty year lease in 1997 and have restored the mansion, operating it as the Willowdale Estate, a premier events facility. Willowdale is a shining example of private and public partnership.
Read about the Bradley Palmer Mansion, and other DCR curatorship successes in the Spring 2013 issue of Retrofit Magazine:
The Historic Curatorship Program is a great preservation tool developed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). This program works with private groups to find new uses for historic properties. By leasing the property to a private owner who finances the restoration and upkeep for a select period of time, the historic resource is saved and brought back to viable use. The Speedway Building is just one of the many DCR properties and we would like to take time to highlight other successful outcomes of the Historic Curatorship Program.