The Brandywine Conservancy and Brandywine River Museum of Art located in Chadds Ford, PA, combines art and nature all in one setting from Chester, Delaware and New Castle counties.
In the 1960s when Chadds Ford, PA, and the surrounding areas in the Brandywine Valley were being faced with pending industrial development reconstruction, local residents acted. They bought endangered land and established the Brandywine Conservancy in 1967.
By 1969 the first conservation easements established protection for over five miles of land along the Brandywine Valley. Currently, nearly 500 property easements are in place which have granted protection to more than 64,000 acres across the three counties.
Both the Conservancy and Museum have thousands of members and visitors. Over 300 volunteers dedicate their time to offer museum tours and tend to the on campus gardens in addition to planning and organizing fundraising events to support the museum’s art collection.
The Brandywine Conservancy
The Conservancy is both a local and national advocate for sustainable land, undeveloped space preservation and clean water. The organization partners with people, governments and private organizations to ensure the preservation of organic, ethnic and scenic resources.
Two hiking areas, the Harvey Run Trail and the River Trail are located onsite at the Brandywine Conservancy and Brandywine River Museum of Art.
The Harvey Run Trail, a 5-mile path of 300 acres of conserved space, was founded by Chadds Ford Township in association with the Conservancy and Museum of Art.
The River Trail is a one-mile path along the Brandywine floodplain with many sights to see including various vegetation species and wildlife such as birds, snakes and turtles. Other features include a mill dam, a wetland and a meadow.
There are four preserves for members to visit off-site: The Laurels Preserve, The Waterloo Mills Preserve, Penguin Court and Thomas Road Farm and Birmingham Hill Preserve.
The Laurels Preserve is located in Coatesville, Chester County, PA. The trail contains close to 500 acres of different species of hardwood forests including white and chestnut oaks, white ash and hickory. Other species of plants include mountain laurel, witch hazel and jewelweed.
The Waterloo Mills Preserve can be found in Devon, Chester County, PA. This preserve has 170 acres with a variety of sights, such as an 18th century village, meadows and fertile marshes. While visiting, guests will likely encounter whitetail deer, turtles and birds.
The third off-site preserve is Penguin Court and Thomas Road Farm, a conservatory and greenhouse located in Laughlintown, PA in Westmoreland County, PA. Here visitors can enjoy nearly 2,000 acres of forests, meadows and conserved open space.
The fourth and final off-site location is the Birmingham Hill Preserve where the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brandywine was fought in September 1777 located in central Birmingham Township, Chester County, PA. There is over 100 acres of land at this location with a paved walking trail surrounding the hallowed, grassy area where the battle took place.
The Brandywine River Museum
In 1971, the Brandywine River Museum of Art was opened in the Hoffman’s Mill, a restored gristmill that was constructed in 1864. The Museum is known internationally for its unique assortment of art of still life and landscape pieces from hundreds of well-known artists.
The Wyeth family was local to Chadds Ford, and are recognized as some of America’s most acclaimed artists from the twentieth century. Their inspiration for their artwork stemmed from the area’s surrounding citizens, buildings and scenic environments.
The art studios belonging to N.C. Wyeth and his son, Andrew Wyeth, are recognized as National Historic Landmarks, and are available for guests to tour with access provided via a shuttle ride from the museum. Both establishments offer an inside look into the restored artists’ workspace with their original furniture and equipment still intact.
Another National Historic Landmark available for guests to visit is the Kuerner Farm, a 19th-century farmstead with a red barn covering most of the property, which served as a source of inspiration for many of Andrew Wyeth’s artwork pieces such as paintings and drawings.
Due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Conservancy and Museum have begun to reopen to the public. In early August, the tours of the art studios will resume. The Brandywine Conservancy and Brandywine River Museum of Art is located just off of U.S. Route 1 at 1 Hoffmans Mill Rd, Chadds Ford, PA 19317. Learn more at their website here
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