Essex, Massachusetts

Total Acres: 31

Year Conserved: 1974


Property Description

The Cox Reservation consists of two parcels: a four-acre woodlot on nearby Lufkin Street and the 26 acres of upland, salt marsh, farmland with house and barn, and river frontage on Eastern Avenue. The views from the larger parcel east toward the salt marsh, the Essex River, the back of Crane Beach, and Castle Hill and Choate Island are magnificent. The LEED certified Greenbelt headquarters and staff offices are located at the Cox Reservation, and the property serves as the location for many Greenbelt events, such as Art in the Barn, throughout the year.

There is a geocache here!  Learn more here!


Special Features

Native Americans seasonally occupied the land until European settlers arrived in the early seventeenth century. The original “ancient road” that connected Ipswich to Gloucester, laid out in 1635, passes through the Cox Reservation. The property was also part of the School Farm, which was established in 1650 to support the first grammar school of Ipswich.

For over 350 years, the property has passed through generations of ownership, and the land was continually farmed, orchards were planted, and livestock were grazed.

In 1940, noted muralist Allyn Cox, whose work adorns the US Capitol Building and Grant’s Tomb, purchased the property as a summer home and used the barn as his studio.  Mr. Cox donated the property to Greenbelt in 1974.

Its location on the Essex Bay estuary makes the Cox Reservation a rewarding place for natural history observation. Shorebirds feed on the mud flats at Clamhouse Landing, and herons, egrets and kingfishers take advantage of the abundant food source of the salt marsh. The old hayfields surrounding the house and barns are home to bobolinks, meadowlarks, and also support the activity of bluebird boxes and osprey platforms. Dogwood, cherry, honeysuckle, pear and apple blossoms make for a fragrant spring while the hickory, ash, sumac and goldenrod create a golden aura in autumn.

The Allyn Cox Reservation is located along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, part of the congressionally designated Essex National Heritage Area. The Area’s extensive historic, cultural and natural resources tell the story of the region’s role in the nation’s early settlement, maritime trade and industrialization.

 ECSB logo

Self Guided Tree Walk on the Allyn Cox Reservation

To help yopu enjoy some of the very special and unique trees planted on the Cox Reservation, we've developed this self-guided tree walk with an easy-to-use map and information about the different trees as you stroll along your route. Each featured tree has a basic description including its common and botanical names, as well as a few interesting facts. Enjoy your walk.



Parking for many cars.

Follow the driveway over a small bit of marsh, bear right when the driveway forks, and park in the lot between the barns.



From Route 128:

Take Exit 15 "School Street" 3.0 miles north. School Street becomes Southern Avenue and leads into Essex center at the intersection of Southern Avenue and Eastern Avenue. Turn right onto Eastern Avenue, Route 133, and follow directions below.

From Essex Center:

From the intersection of Southern Avenue and Eastern Avenue, proceed east on Eastern Avenue, Route 133, toward Gloucester 0.5 mile. You will pass the South Essex Center mall on the right, and then make an immediate left turn into our driveway, which is marked by a Greenbelt sign. If you reach Farnham's Clams you have gone to far.


Get Out and Paddle

Essex River Basin, Essex and Ipswich

Ability: Novice to Intermediate

Terrain: Tidal, inland

Distance: 1-4 hours

It’s single-track for your kayak when you explore the marsh and the narrow creeks that make up the Essex River Basin. On this trip you’ll enjoy the marsh wildlife – ospreys overhead and fish jumping next to you. You’ll also enjoy the spectacular views of the backside of Crane Beach and Hog Island. Just remember to check the tides... you don’t want to get stranded in the marsh at low tide.

Drop your boat off at the end of the driveway at Clam House Landing and park back at the main parking area near the headquarters. Have questions? Stop in the office M-F 9-5. Remember to check the tides. The GPS link will give you many options to explore the waters of the Essex River Basin, and if you want to stop for lunch, paddle down to Farnham's Clams on the Essex River. Explore for as long as you want.


Allyn Cox Reservation & Clam House Landing

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  • Bluebird - Cox Reservation
  • Song Sparrow - Cox Reservation
  • Tree Swallow - Cox Reservation
  • LEED Certified Greenbelt Headquarters at Cox Reservation
  • Cox View Spring
  • Winter Sunset - Cox Reservation
  • Popular subject for landscape painters
  • Red Tailed Hawk - Cox Reservation
  • Cox Reservation - Fall View
  • Cox Reservation - Aerial View