Our Home at Moraine Farm

Cape Ann Waldorf School is located on an 10-acre parcel at historic Moraine Farm in Beverly, Massachusetts. Moraine Farm is a 170-acre tract of permanently protected conservation land along the shores of Wenham Lake. The landscape at Moraine Farm was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880s and remains today little changed from the original Olmsted design. The grounds of Moraine Farm include meadows, woodlands and formal gardens as well as farmland. Visitors who walk the carriage roads are rewarded with sweeping vistas of Wenham Lake, acres of open meadows, and woodlands studded with mature rhododendron and azaleas. Today, Moraine Farm is home to two other non-profits, in addition to Cape Ann Waldorf School—Project Adventure and The Trustees of Reservations.

 

The History of Moraine Farm

Frederick Law Olmsted is responsible for the landscape design at some of our nation’s most treasured public spaces—such as Manhattan’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace—and he is widely considered to be the most important figure in the history of American landscape design. Moraine Farm (originally the Phillips Estate) is a significant example of the many private estates planned by Olmsted. According to one scholar:

 

There are several aspects to the historical significance of Moraine Farm, which make it a place of great importance among existing Olmsted designs. It is the most significant forerunner of the two extensive estates he planned for members of the Vanderbilt family in the early 1890s, Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. In those places he elaborated on the creation of a mix of country seat, functioning farm, and experimental forestry, that he first developed at Moraine Farm….

 

All in all, Olmsted's conception for Moraine Farm was an ingenious one, reflecting the most important of his design principles applicable to residential grounds. It appears to have been fully carried out, and is still today remarkably true to the original intent.

Since the early 1990s all of the landscape and architectural features that make Moraine Farm special have been legally protected by a Conservation Restriction, a legal document that limits new development at Moraine Farm. The purpose of the Conservation Restriction is to forever preserve the “historic, scenic and conservation values of the Property.” Those restrictions are overseen and enforced by The Trustees of Reservations and Essex County Greenbelt Association, two of the most respected land trusts in Massachusetts.

 

The Cape Ann Waldorf School Site

Cape Ann Waldorf School, located at the southern end of Moraine Farm, is accessed by the scenic main carriage drive, which was and is an integral part of the Olmsted design. The School’s grounds are mostly wooded with many specimen trees, including towering white pines that likely were planted under Olmsted’s direction. An open meadow provides space for games and community gatherings. Trails and carriage roads provide access for our students to other parts of Moraine Farm, as well as the adjacent J.C. Phillips Nature Preserve. All of these features make our home an ideal location for teaching the Waldorf curriculum, which strives to connect children to nature.

The School building was enlarged when the School bought it in 2010 to provide additional classroom space. We intend to add further classrooms, performance space and sports facilities in the coming years. A long-term campus master plan, now under development, is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.

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