About This Location
The abandoned Highover Estate Ruins can be found in the JC Phillips Nature Preserve in Beverly, Massachusetts. The grand mansion was built in the early 1900s for William Phillips, but sadly it burned down on October 11, 1968.
Purchasing The Land
John Charles “JC” Phillips Jr. purchased 275 acres of land in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1880. Phillips was a successful businessman who made a fortune in the shipping industry. He aspired to turn this land into a homestead, logging site, and working farm. To create his dream property, he hired legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Olmsted is best known for designing the grounds of Central Park in NYC, The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and the U.S. Capitol in DC.
The land was originally known as the Moraine Farm and the first house on the grounds was built in 1882. The surrounding landscape was designed by Olmsted and included a wonderful carriage path along Wenham Lake. There was also a lot of work that had to be done to the land to make it a successful logging and farming site. Phillips had drainage problems rerouted and 60,000 trees planted.
Sadly, JC Phillips passed away in 1885 and did not get to spend much time at the farm.
Building The Highover Estate
The land remained in the Phillips family after JC passed away. In fact, his son, William Phillips, even purchased an adjoining property next to Moraine Farm to expand the family compound. William was born at the farm and wanted to stay close to his family. Following this expansion, JC’s son, Ambassador William Phillips, and his wife built a spectacular Italianate mansion named Highover in 1913. The home itself was very large and it also boasted lovely grounds including a fountain, pond, statues, gardens, large gates, and more.
The stunning Highover mansion burned down in 1968 after a massive and uncontrollable fire broke out. Following the fire, the mansion and surrounding areas were abandoned by the Phillips family. For years, the land was unused until 1987 when the property was acquired by the town of Beverly and converted into the JC Phillips Nature Preserve.
What Remains Today
Today, the JC Phillips Nature Preserve is a wonderful place to hike and some remains of the old Highover Estate can still be found. When walking up to the old estate, visitors will first stumble upon a large gate complete with iron fencing, stone towers, and some small statues. The gate and fences are in rough shape and are being reclaimed by nature. Visitors can then walk up to the main garden of the former mansion.
In the garden, visitors can see the old main fountain which features a good-sized round pool along with an old pipe. Also, at the eastern end of this area, visitors can see the last standing piece of the old Highover mansion. This white building looks like it was an old pergola, similar to the Juniper Hall Pergola in Prospect Park in Shrewsbury, MA. The pergola at the Highover Estate is in rough shape and is sadly covered in graffiti. That said, it is a fascinating sight to see and one of the highlights of the abandoned remains.
There are also some lovely old carriage roads on which visitors are welcome to walk, run, and bike.