Our Story

Willowdale Estate is an Arts and Crafts Stone Mansion; our property today is about 4 acres of the 720-acre Bradley Palmer State Park.

 

In 1901 construction of the mansion was under way with owner Bradley Palmer and architect Cummings. The home was host of many grand parties with guests such as president Taft, Prince of Wales and General Patton—whose family still owns and operates The Green Meadows farm down the road. A born preservationist and equestrian Bradley Palmer was committed to nature and conservation which is partly why in 1944 upon his death he left the Mansion and Land to the State to be turned into a park for all to enjoy!

 

Back in the late 1990s, Boston architect, Gerald Fandetti and his wife Charlotte Forsythe won the lease through a lengthy open bid proposal process. With their combined skills and experience with their historic properties, the Mary Prentiss Inn in Harvard Square and the Kendall Hotel in Cambridge, the couple was the ideal steward for Willowdale’s elegant historic rehabilitation.

 

Upon being awarded the 50 year lease to Willowdale in 1999, the family renovated the mansion for the next eight years—carefully balancing historic accuracy with modern building codes.  All lease holders must rehabilitate, manage and maintain Willowdale Estate through the Massachusetts Historic Curatorship Program.

 

Briar Rose Forsythe, their daughter, helped build the family business after finishing college and when the opportunity came to create her own company at Willowdale she fulfilled a life long dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Utilizing her decades of hospitality experience with her family’s businesses and her fundamental love of good, wholesome food, Briar has built an organization that leverages the beauty of this historic residence as backdrop for wonderful party experiences throughout the year.

 

In July of 2007, Willowdale Estate reopened its doors as an elegant event venue with full service party planning and catering.

 

Today, Ms. Forsythe runs the business according to three core principles:

 

Mission Statement_Phil Fox_11-24-09

Dedication

Great food, great surroundings and great service—mastering these simple elements can transform any moment into a magical one. Our entire team is driven by a desire to make every Willowdale occasion unique and memorable. We enjoy close collaboration with our guests—but we’re equally skilled at taking the reigns if you prefer—to create a one-of-a-kind experience for each and every event.

 

Passion

By bringing together a staff of people who truly love what they do, Willowdale offers every client a most distinctive celebration or event. We encourage our employees to pursue their passions, foster their creativity and contribute their special talents to dream up inspired new experiences for our clients.

 

Spirit

The very real spirit of teamwork is the seed that allows Willowdale’s passion and dedication to grow. We dedicate ourselves to fostering a supportive, constructive environment that helps our employees learn and grow as creative contributors to each and every Willowdale event. Through our diversity of perspectives and talents, our team creates the one-of-a-kind beauty your event deserves.