Arial view of willowdale


Willowdale Estate opened its doors in 2007 after an extensive renovation to bring the beauty of the mansion and grounds back to its original by-gone era. Our owner, Briar Forsythe, developed a team of dedicated planners, event coordinators, and a renowned catering team that will help you craft an unforgettable occasion, marked by impeccable hospitality and personalized service. In 2017, Briar and her team founded Bramble Hospitality, which now includes Briar Barn Inn located in Rowley, Massachusetts to provide even more great hospitality options to the people in, and from the greater Boston region.

Meet our team

The stately fireplace in our elegant library. The doorway that leads to a secret garden. Our team shares their favorite places at Willowdale, and what inspires them to continually surpass clients’ expectations.

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Sarah Boucher

VP of Marketing & Communications

“I love the doorway of the North Wing Entrance, which was the original entrance to the mansion in 1902. There are two small stained glass windows, depicting a rooster and an owl, that mark where the sun rises and sets over the estate.”

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Marissa Caruso

Event Sales Administrator

"Being inside the Conservatory at Willowdale somehow envelopes me in an overwhelming calmness while it stands so grand. Whether you’re looking out onto the front lawn on a sunny day and spotting the wildlife in the park or standing underneath a rainstorm, it is really just the most breathtaking space."

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Kim Crawford

Marketing & Design Specialist 

"First impressions matter. Right when you walk in the front door of the estate there is that 'wow factor'. Beautiful dark wood tones and a large window directly across from the entrance that showcases the courtyard. This is rustic elegance at its best. Getting married at Willowdale, and now as an employee, that first moment still sticks out in my mind."

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Julia D'Agostino

Event Coordinator

“My favorite spot at the estate would have to be under the tent. With summer being my favorite season at Willowdale, I can feel the excitement and anticipation of tent season each year as we watch the weather get warmer and the garden start to bloom. There is something about the celebrations out back that feel grand, bold, and exciting. Then to be surrounded by the forest makes everything feel romantic and secluded.”

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Alli Delano



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Briar Forsythe


“My favorite spot is the green doorway that leads to the courtyard garden. It reminds me of the door in the story The Secret Garden, and was my inspiration for creating our butterfly garden. In spring, the morning glory drapes over the dormer, and some of our most beautiful photos are of wedding couples standing underneath.”

events team memeber

Kitty Garry


“The Garden Courtyard is the heart of our venue in the warmer months. In our Tent Season, I love to see our wedding clients glancing down from our suites to see our staff setting up the courtyard and getting excited as it fills up with friends and family for a ceremony in the garden. ”

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Melissa Herrera

Sales Manager

Of all the intricate details in the mansion, my favorite are the pairs of Kings and Queens that bookend what seems to be a lively game of chess on mantle in the dining room. Every time I walk through the dining room, I can’t help but smile and picture the mantle coming to life for a new match.

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Joe Hussey

Facility Supervisor

My favorite room in the house is definitely the library.  The dark stains and low lighting make it so warm and inviting that it almost lures you into the large fluffy chairs. In the mornings, the library is among one of the first rooms in the house to be touched by the sunlight, casting its rays on the beautiful fireplace, and warming the room to a perfect temperature. 

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Monique Jeffrey, CSEP

VP of Operations

“Every day I get inspired as soon as I enter through our iconic red door. The elegant entrance represents the luxury brand we have created, one that inspires hospitality, dedication and passion from each and every one of our employees.”

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Michelle Ketcham

Sous Chef

"When I am not in the kitchen, I enjoy the conservatory views in all the seasons. A blanket of snow, the rusty leaves of autumn, the bright spring blooms, and the summer sunshine. Each season at Willowdale brings an ethereal view."

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Eric Kirlis

Facility Assistant

"Without a doubt, the area of the property I most enjoy would be the front patio of the Mansion. From this unique vantage point, you can experience beautiful sweeping views of the property, with glimpses of the Ipswich River. Through the glinting snow in winter, the morning dew of spring, vivid sunrises of summer, and crisp fallen leaves of autumn the front patio is always a great place to grab a coffee sit down, and enjoy each season."

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Jeannine LaVasseur

Event Coordinator

"My favorite spot at Willowdale is the front foyer, right inside the big red door. It’s a space that holds a lot of emotion. From all the excitement and anticipation of our clients and guests arriving to hugs, thank yous and bittersweet goodbyes at the end of the evening. I just imagine all the people who have crossed that threshold and got to experience Willowdale, even in the days of Bradley Palmer. If walls could talk."

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Ben Lightbody

Executive Chef

“The courtyard is a beautiful sight on its own, and when I’m not in the kitchen it’s one of the few things I get a chance to take in on the day of an event. I love watching the team transform the space, and how it changes with the seasons, from spring to summer to fall.”

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Emily McTeague

Event Coordinator

"Every morning I look forward to my drive into work, down the winding road surrounded by mature plantings. As soon as Willowdale comes into view, I am truly inspired and continue to be in awe of this vast, yet warm, cottage-like estate tucked away in Bradley Palmer State Park. I like to imagine the impression that Willowdale has on each guest as they make the same drive in."

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Veronica Menna

Event Coordinator

"The velvet blue chaise lounge is my favorite piece in the wedding suite. I love to imagine myself, posing in an extravagant gown, waiting for the cameraman’s flash of light to capture the timeless shot."

Anna Sales Manager

Anna Schirripa

Event Sales Manager

"I appreciate the beauty that starts from within! The values, comradery, and teamwork of our employees is at the core of our success. Our deep sense of hospitality and family drives every event just as it would in every home!"


Christine Tatro

Business Administrator

“There’s a bench just outside the library that always gives me a feeling of quiet and peacefulness. I love the living wall and plantings out there; it’s where I go to lift my spirits and re-focus.”

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Melissa Thunberg


“The living wall is a new addition to the estate, a collaboration between myself and the Facility team that adds an inspirational, vibrant and lush backdrop for our clients and guests. I love how it changes with the seasons, and when I’m designing the wall and digging in the soil I can truly be inspired by the beautiful surroundings of Willowdale.”

The Story of our Mansion

Willowdale Estate is a Craftsman and Tudor Revival Stone Mansion, commissioned in 1901-1902. Bradley Palmer spent a good deal of time deciding where to build his “modest cottage” and settled on the affluent town of Topsfield, where there was plenty of land to exercise his horses. The architect was Charles Kimball Cummings (1870-1955) who practiced architecture in Boston from 1897 to 1947 and was well known for his house designs, particularly those of substantial scale for the wealthy of that era. Palmer drew his inspiration for the house from the Mansions and Castles of Aberdeen in Scotland. He incorporated motifs from the Medieval Period into the Arts and Crafts style- creating a very eclectic home.

front of willowdale
Willowdale dining room
Historic stained glass window