Emery House Ecology

A Brief Survey of the Ecology of Emery House

Emery House road

Emery House is a 144-acre parcel on the border of West Newbury and Newburyport.  It is a retreat center operated by the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a monastic order of the Episcopal Church.  There are 11 buildings on the property, ranging from a 15-room main house begun in 1720, to two small 10×10 cabins in the forest used by retreatants in the summer.  The majority of our retreatants stay in six small hermitages built around a courtyard.  The northern boundary is the Merrimac River.  The eastern boundary is the Artichoke River.  The southern boundary is State Route 113, and the western boundary is a straight, N-S wall from Rt. 113 to the Merrimac.

Our property is contiguous with Maudslay State Park, sharing the border along the Artichoke River.  Maudslay encompasses 480-acres, including 1.5 miles of Merrimac River shoreline.  Our two properties together offer more than 2 miles of river frontage, broken only by the 300-year old Curzon Mill that was built by the Emery Family, previous owners of Emery House, in the early 1700s.

The land is a combination of mixed white pine/hardwood forest (primarily white pine, oak, maple, beech, ash, birch and walnut), and cultivated fields. Approximately 2/3 of the land is wooded, 1/3 is open.

The majority of the property is included in BioMap’s Core Habitat and Supporting Natural Landscape categories (it appears that only the cultivated portions of the property are not included in one of these two areas).  Further, the north and east boundaries (the Merrimac and Artichoke Rivers respectively) are listed as Living Waters Core Habitat and the entirety of the property is within the Living Waters Critical Supporting Watershed.

Several at-risk species and habitats are found at Emery House.  Most importantly, we are the stewards of two significant Freshwater Tidal Marshes, listed as Critically Imperiled by BioMap.  The entirety of the property is considered a Small-River Floodplain Forest, listed by BioMap as an Imperiled natural community.  We are in the nesting and wintering zone for Bald Eagles (Massachusetts and federally listed Endangered; portions of Maudslay are closed for this occurrence).

The Massachusetts Wildflower Society conducts an annual survey of a small population of Eaton’s Beggar-Ticks, (BioMap, Endangered). The New England Silt snail is found at the mouth of the Artichoke River (BioMap, Special Concern).  The Common Moorhen is present in the Artichoke River (BioMap Special Concern).  Recently we have observed Black Bear sign on the property.