Back in 1925, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was putting the finishing touches on his novel “The Great Gatsby,” Chicago plumbing magnate Richard T. Crane Jr. was living the dream. On a hilltop surrounded by the ocean in Ipswich Crane oversaw the construction of a fabulous English-style summer house, where he would host lavish parties with his wife, Florence, and throw birthday parties for their son, Cornelius, inviting every child in town.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the novel or Baz Luhrman’s new 3-D “Gatsby” film, a visit to the Crane Estate is an intriguing look at how the 1 percent lived in the Roaring Twenties, North Shore-style. If you have wandered along Crane Beach and admired the landscape, you might have caught a glimpse of the mansion on the hill and wondered about its provenance. As the story goes, Crane sailed past this spot in 1910 and was struck by its beauty and seclusion, deeming it the perfect spot for his summer home. He bought all the land he could see, ultimately accumulating 3,500 acres and six islands.