The 24-room main house and two cottages on the Coolidge estate in Topsfield have been offered for sale for $6.5 million as a prelude to MIT disposing of the entire property, which is more than 571 acres.
The Georgian mansion at 68 River Road occupies 150 acres of the property, with a view of the Ipswich River through landscaping designed by Frederick Law Olmstead's firm. The estate, former home of the Saltonstall, Sears and Coolidge families, was donated to MIT by William A. Coolidge, a longtime member of the MIT Corporation. Mr. Coolidge died in 1992.
To protect the historical agricultural use of the property, last year MIT and the private non-profit land trust Essex County Greenbelt entered into an agreement that permanently prohibits development of land on the estate. Buildings already in place may be modified with the approval of Greenbelt.
The buyer of the main house will be offered the opportunity to purchase a larger portion of the property, including the entire estate if desired. For this reason, additional parcels will not become available until the main house is sold. These parcels include several significant properties, including homes and farms.
The mansion, designed by Phillip Richardson in 1921, features a two-story center block flanked by pavillion wings. It has 14 bedrooms, eight bathrooms, six fireplaces, parquet floors, hand-carved wood paneling and spindle staircases, antique wainscoting, crown moldings and French doorways that open to gardens.
The adjoining properties included in the offering are an antique Cape at 70 River Road that was moved to the property in 1922, and a two-bedroom gable-roofed Cape at 82R River Road, known as the Foye Cottage.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 18, 2000.