Maudslay State Park
Written by GOSeacoast Walks
SCENIC LOCAL WALKS
How often can you walk the dog on a millionaire’s riverfront estate? Every day
if you live near Newburyport, MA. A century ago this beautiful scenery and 30
buildings belonged to one family. Today it is open to the masses.
Name: Maudslay State Park
Location: Curzon Mill Rd., Newburyport, MA
Details: $2 parking
Resources: Walking trails, biking, horse riding, gardens, cross country skiing, summer
theater and cultural events, picnicking.
Rules: Posted at site. During the winter a portion of the park is off limits due
to roosting bald eagles. Beware deer ticks.
Dogs: Yes, on leash.
Web Site: Mass Parks
You have to walk the old Moseley family estate along the Merrimack River to believe
it. The full grounds include 480 acres with the ruins of a 19th century estate and gardens, rolling hills, enormous trees, and in-season, the
state’s largest mountain laurel display.
Newburyport families know the area well, but come-from-aways may be surprised
by the extent and crumbling beauty of the land and surviving outbuildings. We
attended a play deep in the grounds, then wandered the mysterious estate. There
are extraordinary trails, but no posted explanation whatsoever about the family
that once owned this rambling acreage. We searched the Internet for an hour before
discovering notes on a Harvard alumni web page.
It seems that the former Fredrick Moseley Estate was originally called "Maudesleigh"
and was built atop an early 19th century farm. There were up to 40 staff and 30 structures including separate
houses for the head gardener, coachman and estate forester. Most of the newer
buildings were built from 1895 to 1910.The 72-room mansion was demolished in 1955.
Landscape archtect Martha Brookes Hutcheson was among the first three women members
of American Society of Landscape Architects. There were extensive gardens, extensive
stone walls, many cold frames and greenhouses, a large bunker, an animal cemetery
and an enormous rhododendron collection that blooms annually.
This is the ideal all-weather walking spot with "stroll clubs", cross country
skiing and a big annual Halloween festival. The scenery moves swiftly from riverside
views, to deep pine woods, to open meadows – with lots of hidden spots once reserved
for the rich and famous.
The latest addition is a talking automated parking attendant that tells visitors
that it has run out of coins and will only accept exact change. A map of the grounds
is available at the sparse state web site and special events are posted on a bulletin
board at the entrance to the site. Other than the $2 parking fee, there is no
charge to this amazing walking site, truly among the most scenic in the Seacoast.
Photo by J. Dennis Robinson
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