The Crane Estate: A Hollywood hit

By Jonathan Phelps
August 14, 2013

‘The Equalizer,’ Denzel Washington, make way to Ipswich

IPSWICH — Denzel Washington is making the rounds on the North Shore in filming for his new movie, “The Equalizer,” and yesterday he arrived in Ipswich.

The “Malcolm X” and “American Gangster” star was in scenes being filmed at the Crane Estate on Castle Hill. Last month, the star was shooting scenes at Groton House Farm in Hamilton.

At the entrance to the Crane Estate yesterday, there was a yellow sign that read “SET.” The property remained open to the public yesterday, but guests were not allowed near the filming. Similar signs were posted around town saying “EQ” and “base camp,” directing crew members to the set.

Crews got exterior shots of the Great House before it rained and they filmed scenes inside, said Peter Pinciaro, deputy director of The Trustees of Reservations, the nonprofit that owns and manages the property.

He said the property was rented for a one-day shoot, but the house will not be available for tours today as crews break down their equipment. He said he could not speak further about filming specifics.

The film is a big-screen adaptation of the popular 1980s television series that starred Edward Woodward as a private detective with a mysterious past who doled out vigilante justice.

The movie co-stars Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Haley Bennett and Melissa Leo.

“The Equalizer” joins an impressive list of films shot on the Crane Estate.

“We’ve done movies here for a long, long time,” Pinciaro said.

“The Thomas Crown Affair,” starring Steve McQueen, was shot there in 1967. “There were scenes out on the beach way back then,” he said.

Filming also took place there in 2008 for “Ghost of Girlfriends Past,” in 1993 for “The Next Karate Kid” and in 1986 for “The Witches of Eastwick,” among other movies. The most notable might be the “The Crucible,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, with months of filming at the Crane Wildlife Refuge and Hog Island (now known as Choate Island).

A television pilot for a turn-of-the-century romantic drama was filmed at the estate last year, but nothing ever materialized.

Turner Hill Golf Club on Topsfield Road is also a popular filming spot, hosting Cameron Diaz for 12 days in shooting “The Box” and scenes from “Shutter Island” in 2008.

Pinciaro said that such filming is great for the organization and the town. Crews typically use local businesses for catering and to buy materials for the sets.

The 59-room mansion at Castle Hill was built in 1928 as the summer estate of Richard T. Crane Jr., a plumbing magnate who was one of the wealthiest Americans of his day.

“The Equalizer” has been filming throughout the Boston area; scenes were shot in Haverhill and Swampscott in May and June. Filming is set to wrap up early next month, according to a press release from Columbia Pictures.

“The Equalizer” is expected to be released in September of next year.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.



Furry Vengeance (Crane Beach)


Shutter Island (Turner Hill Golf Club)

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (Crane Estate)


The Box (Turner Hill Golf Club)

My Best Friend’s Girl


The Love Letter


The Crucible (Crane Estate, Hog Island)


The Next Karate Kid (Crane Estate)




Glory (Appleton Farm)


The Witches of Eastwick (Crane Estate)

Flowers in the Attic (Crane Estate)


The Thomas Crown Affair (Crane Estate)

Information provided by the Massachusetts Film Office website.

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