, Salem, MA

Local News

October 8, 2012

Completing the transformation

Final building has been restored in Willowdale Estate project


The building was used to house carriages and horse equipment; remaining space was used as staff quarters, equipped with restrooms and a first-floor kitchen. Horses were stabled in an adjacent building.

Palmer, a lifelong bachelor, loved the outdoors and entertaining. President William H. Taft, England’s Prince Edward VIII and Gen. George Patton were all visitors to the estate Palmer called Willow Dale.

Restoration of the coach house, which began last year, preserved roughly 90 percent of the building’s layout, Boucher said. Three apartments with restrooms and kitchens were created around the building’s main garage space.

The only major alterations were done to bring the building up to modern building codes, such as widening staircases and adding doors. Electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems were upgraded, while features such as the antique cookstove, exposed brickwork, built-in cabinets, and original wood floors and window frames remain.

The coach house renovation was done by Coastline Construction of Newbury.

The business plan for the coach house has yet to be fully fleshed out, but the units could be used as overnight housing for brides, grooms and their families. The units will not be rented to the public or used for long-term stays, she said.

The first-floor cook space could be used as a test kitchen by Willowdale Estate’s catering business, she said. The garage will be used by the estate’s facilities team.

The restoration at the Willowdale Estate is one of 17 in the state’s Historic Curatorship Program. Through the program, private individuals or companies lease a state-owned property, rent-free, but agree to pay for rehabilitation and upkeep of the buildings.

In addition to private events, Willowdale Esate opens for public tours periodically through the year. In December, a holiday concert of classical music and a free movie night, showing the classic “White Christmas,” are open to the public, as well.

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

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