From the Collection:
The Butler/Crane Estate
The Butler/Crane estate, set on a promontory on Juniper Point with an expansive view of the Vineyard and Elizabeth Islands, has an interesting history. Currently for sale, the house was originally built in 1880 by Daniel Webster Butler on what was then known as Parker Point on the site of a farm that had been demolished in a fire. He called this estate Notantico(or Notautico). Butler was born in Falmouth on the corner of Depot Avenue where the Ramada Inn now is. He ran a successful shoe manufacturing business in Boston until his retirement, when he returned to his hometown. After his death, the property was sold to Charles R. Crane
Daniel W. Butler house under construction in the 1870s
Another view of "Notautico" (undated) from the current location of the “Airplane House”
Butler's Point: view of barn and Butler house beyond from steamship area looking southeast.
Photograph by Baldwin Coolidge
Charles Crane came to Woods Hole in 1900 to visit his younger sister, Frances. Their brother, Richard, built the Crane Castle in Ipswich. Frances was married to University of Chicago zoology professor Frank Rattray Lillie, the assistant director of the MBL. Crane roomed at the Breakwater Hotel on Bar Neck Road. In 1910, he wanted a place of his own,so he bought the Butler estate.
Butler or Crane main house in the 1900s before renovation
Crane had the house winterized and added a kitchen wing along with new bedrooms and porches. He hired the Minneapolis architects Purcell & Elmslie to do the renovations and to design and build many other structures on the eight acre estate which he renamed Juniper Point. One of these structures was a house for his daughter's family - the well-known "Airplane House". Purcell & Elmslie called Crane their best client.
Two views of the Crane estate after renovations in the 1910s.
Charles Crane was appointed Ambassador to China by President Woodrow Wilson and held other diplomatic positions. In spring of 1920, newspapers were abuzz with the story that the president would be spending the upcoming summer at the Crane Estate with an entourage of staff. However, after an inspection by the Secret Service, it was determined that the compound was not large enough to accommodate the work force from the Executive Office and the physical location presented obstacles to presidential protection.
A cartoon in the New Bedford Standard Times appeared shortly thereafter depicting images of many locals and "just a reminder of 'what might have been' ".
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Woods Hole Historical Museum
579 Woods Hole Road (P.O. Box 185)
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Phone: 508-548-7270