76 Ferry Hill Road, Marshfield, MA, USA
Owned By: Ferry Hill Day Camp
Education center and summer day camp for children on the banks of Little’s Creek in Marshfield. Former longtime location of the Marshfield Branch YWCA. For a short walk nearby, look for Ferry Hill Thicket, diagonally across the street.
Prior to Ferry Hill Day Camp’s purchase of the property in 2019, this was the longtime location of the Marshfield Branch of the Cambridge YWCA.
The original land owner was Victor Belanger, a gentleman farmer. His estate — which included this property and much more — was large enough that this section of town was known as “Belangerville.”
After Belanger, Dr. Charles H. Thurber established a summer estate in the house at the top of Ferry Hill Road. Thurber was a professor at various colleges and the Editor in Chief at Ginn & Co. a publisher of textbooks. In order to prevent today’s Ferry Hill Center property from being developed as house lots, Thurber purchased the land for himself. Each summer he offered “The Red Barn” as a “family camp” for employees at Ginn & Co. This was a common practice at the time for factory owners — providing a summer respite for employees.
After Thurber’s death in 1938, the estate passed to his daughter, Mrs. William Tanner. Mrs. Tanner, a resident of Cambridge, was very involved in the Cambridge Branch of the YWCA. In 1961, she donated the property — which included “The Red Barn” — to the Cambridge YWCA. Run by staff from Cambridge as well as a dedicated team of volunteers, it was put to use as a summer camp for children. Mrs. Tanner also provided funds for the construction of a caretaker’s cottage, and for much-needed improvements to the barn, including heat and winterization.
As the local population grew, the YWCA saw that it could offer programs for women and children at its Marshfield location year-round. Programming focused around the needs of women who were home full time. Childcare was provided on-site, and rates for both classes and camp were intentionally maintained as affordable. The facility served as a lifeline for many families. It was run primarily volunteers, including Madeleine McDonald, Genevieve Guimond, Martine Anderson, Joanne Sullivan, and Dottie Carpenter. A staff member from Cambridge made weekly visits to oversee operations.
By the end of the 1960s, the volunteer staff had grown to about 200 people. The Marshfield YWCA was a busy place! Officials in Cambridge recognized that sustained success would require a resident staff member. In 1970, Jay O’Callahan was hired as the new caretaker of the property. Linda O’Callahan, a teacher who had accompanied her husband to the caretaker interview, was offered a position as Program Director. The offer was so casual that Linda had to make follow-up calls to confirm that she had actually been offered a job!
Linda O’Callahan led the Marshfield Branch of the YWCA for 40 years, first as Program Director and later as Branch Director. Upon her retirement, she was succeeded by Kim Nashawaty. The facility continued to offer affordable year-round programs, as well as a summer day camp, until 2018, when the YWCA made the decision to sell the property. Ferry Hill Day Camp/Ferry Hill Center purchased the property in 2019.
Ferry Hill Day Camp is an inclusion-based center with a community committed to kindness. It offers workshops, conferences and events, plus yoga and a summer day camp. Amy Gordon, the camp’s founder and Ferry Hill Center’s Board President cites the bucolic setting as one of its many enriching features.
There are no public trails at Ferry Hill Day Camp, but the Ferry Hill Thicket (conservation area) is located across the street.
Habitats and Wildlife
This property is home to numerous cedar trees. It offers a spectacular view of the salt marshes, and is a prime spot for birding.
Ferry Hill Day Camp is located at the edge of Little’s Creek. The creek originates in springs on Telegraph Hill and Carolina Hill in Marshfield. Following the course of Church and Elm Streets, it flows through Keene’s Pond and then winds through the salt marsh before emptying into the South River on the northwest side of Ferry Hill.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 9.2 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: No public parking available.
Cost: Not open to the public.
Trail Difficulty: No trails.
No public facilities.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Little's Creek (South River watershed)