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Saving Highfield Hall

The story of the mansion starts in 1872 with the arrival of the trains from New York and Boston bringing summer visitors. James Madison Beebe of Boston and his wife, Esther E. Beebe, bought more than 700 acres of land on the hill above the railroad station for their estate. The last of the Beebe children died in 1932. After that Highfield Hall passed through a succession of owners, and in 1962 the estate was purchased for a housing development. The entire estate was rescued in 1972 by Josephine and Josiah K. Lilly III, who gave the nearly 400 acres of Beebe Woods to the town for permanent conservation. The buildings were donated to a local arts organization. But from the mid-1970s on, Highfield Hall entered 2 decades of neglect and vandalism. In 1994 the mansion was scheduled to be demolished. An advocacy group, Friends of Highfield, was formed to save the building. The restoration effort was made possible through donations totaling more than $8 million (tel. 508/495-1878; www.highfieldhall.org).

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