On September 11, 2018—the 241st anniversary of the legendary American Revolutionary War Battle of Brandywine—the Brandywine Conservancy commemorated its acquisition of a key piece of land within the heart of the historic battlefield. Complete with the Museum of the American Revolution’s replica of George Washington’s tent, two of the commander-in-chief’s guards along with members of the 1st Delaware Regiment, and the occasional volley of musket fire, the dedication ceremony celebrated the purchase of a 13-acre parcel located on Birmingham Hill—the epicenter of the battlefield—which merges with an adjacent 100 acres previously acquired by the Conservancy in 2007. This acquisition completes the organization’s remarkable 25-year endeavor to preserve over 500 contiguous acres where the fiercest fighting transpired during the Battle of Brandywine.
“Today, we mark the acquisition of the final piece of a decades long puzzle. It is with profound excitement for the future of this land that we will soon undertake a master planning process to really explore how we can best activate and interpret this site,” said Ellen Ferretti, director of the Brandywine Conservancy. “We look forward to working with all levels of government, with the community, our neighbors and area experts to create a plan that will pay homage to the significant events that took place here and engage future generations in its preservation.”
During the ceremony, Pennsylvania Senator Tom Killion and Representative Carolyn Comitta spoke on the importance of the preservation of our nation’s history. “Birmingham Hill is an incredibly significant Revolutionary War site for our country,” noted Senator Killion. “The Brandywine Conservancy has worked for decades to save hundreds of acres of the Brandywine Battlefield. We are immensely grateful for their efforts in protecting our land and preserving America’s history.”
“I have long admired the extraordinary work of the Brandywine Conservancy and am pleased to offer my congratulations and support for this project,” said Representative Comitta. “I believe this purchase will allow for the permanent preservation of a vital part of our collective history and an important national treasure.”
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Brandywine Conservancy and a consortium of local preservation groups, citizens, and federal, state, county, and local government officials formed the Brandywine Battlefield Task Force. In addition to interpretation and education about the battle, the Task Force’s mission was to implement public and private partnerships to preserve lands within the Brandywine Battlefield National Historic Landmark. This was the beginning of a concerted effort by the Conservancy to preserve the remaining undeveloped historic sites where the heaviest battle action occurred. Over the next 25 years, nearly $18 million was raised to purchase land outright or buy conservation easements resulting in the permanent protection of 500 acres of the battlefield. Chester County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Park Service were key partners in the project, along with Natural Lands. Securing this last parcel on Birmingham Hill brings fulfillment to decades of work to preserve the area as a contiguous whole and prevent development in the heart of one of the nation’s most important historic battlefields.
In protecting this piece of our national heritage for future generations, the Brandywine Conservancy looks forward to its next chapter planning the long-term use and management of the Birmingham Hill property. Conservancy staff will undertake a master planning process that is expected to take a year to complete. The immediate goals are to preserve the property’s historic integrity and conserve its existing natural resources, while working alongside qualified partners. Eventually the Conservancy hopes to open the property for public visitation—respectful of the site’s historic value—with opportunities for public education and interpretation programs.
The final acquisition of the Birmingham Hill property was made possible by generous support and contributions by many dedicated supporters, including the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program, Chester County, the Longwood Foundation, the late Mr. H. F. Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, the McLean Contributionship, the American Battlefield Trust, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Crestlea Foundation, the William P. Worth Trust, Mr. and Mrs. William P. Worth, III, Mr. Peter Rogers, and Ms. Dianne Bricker.