As of March 25, 2021, North American Land Trust (NALT) has acquired a historic Brandywine Battlefield property — located on Oakland Road in Delaware County — with the intent to protect the land forever under conservation easement before ultimately opening its 72 acres to the public as Brinton Run Preserve. Originally considered for development, the property’s diverse array of plant and wildlife species and its historic significance will be forever preserved, and NALT plans to create opportunities for passive public recreation and education for the community.
The effort to save this property began in 2019 when owner Mrs. Frank Baldino, Jr., Ph.D., in her preparation to sell the homestead, approached NALT to discuss open space protection as an alternative to development. “I was familiar with NALT’s mission and reputation in the field of conservation and was particularly delighted to learn of their interest in acquiring the property for a public preserve,” stated Sandra Baldino. “I’m especially appreciative that through partnerships with funders and local organizations, the historical and ecological value of the land will be protected, shared and enjoyed by its neighbors and the community alike.”
NALT, a national nonprofit organization known for holding conservation easements on properties — including East Bradford Township’s parks — recognized the unique significance of the land and began working diligently to not only protect it, but purchase it. “We are thrilled to finally acquire and ultimately open NALT’s very first public preserve here in our local community of Chadds Ford, especially during a time when public open space is extremely important for safe gatherings, and maintaining mental and physical health,” said NALT President Steven Carter. “NALT could not have succeeded in such a short amount of time without our incredibly generous and collaborative partners who believed in our vision enough to support it, and we are forever grateful for them.”
NALT was able to raise $3.85 million to purchase the property with financial support from the American Battlefield Trust, Chadds Ford Township, Delaware County’s Open Space and Recreation Grant Program, Mt. Cuba Center, the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“Mt. Cuba Center is dedicated to preserving open spaces and native flora throughout the Brandywine Valley and surrounding region,” said Ann Rose, Mt. Cuba Center’s president. “Natural habitats of high ecological value are found at Brinton Run Preserve, including the forested areas along the southwest border of the property. We thank North American Land Trust for their leadership in this important conservation project and are gratified that our support will help protect the many species that call it home.”
Located across from the historic Brinton 1704 House and just down the road from Dilworthtown Village and Historic District, Brinton Run Preserve will add to the rich history of the Brandywine Valley. The American Battlefield Trust identified Brinton Run Preserve as one of the most important unprotected tracts on the Brandywine Battlefield to be protected, thanks to the role it played in the Battle of the Brandywine; on that fateful day of September 11, 1777, a final fight took place at Brinton Run Preserve, which allowed George Washington and the Continental Army to retreat to safety and avoid suffering more losses.
“With so much of the Brandywine Battlefield now lost to development, the American Battlefield Trust was proud to contribute financially to the protection of Brinton Run Preserve and to help facilitate a matching grant through the federal American Battlefield Protection Program,” said American Battlefield Trust President David Duncan. At $1.8 million, that battlefield land acquisition grant is one of the largest yet awarded by the program for a Revolutionary War site.
A Conservation Easement held by Chadds Ford Township will soon permanently protect the property and its natural resources, including 92 native plant species, natural habitat for a variety of pollinators, a large pond, and a tributary of Brandywine Creek that expands on the Brandywine Conservancy’s protected area of the Brandywine Creek Greenway Corridor. “Not only does Brinton Run Preserve fulfill a need for more open space in Chadds Ford Township, but its permanent protection prevents any future development,” said Frank Murphy, Chairman of Chadds Ford Township Board of Supervisors. “I have no doubt it will become a treasured community resource.” Chadds Ford Township and Sandra Baldino have committed additional substantial support to establish an operating fund, and NALT continues to raise support for this fund.
“This department is pleased to partner with the North American Land Trust and other project funders in protecting this important Brandywine Greenway and Battlefield property,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “We applaud NALT’s ambitious plans for property restoration and connecting people to nature.” In addition to removing a modern home, NALT plans to reintroduce native plant species across the property, undertake riparian maintenance, implement a trail system and create opportunities for community programming with a variety of local partners. Interpretive opportunities to help passive recreational users better understand the history of the Battle of Brandywine are also in the works. Through local partnerships with the Brinton 1704 House, Chadds Ford Township and other groups, NALT hopes to create a community space where everyone is welcome to enjoy nature and appreciate the unique history of Brinton Run Preserve.
Brinton Run Preserve is not yet open to the public, but to learn more and stay updated on progress, visit www.northamericanlandtrust.org/explore/brintonrunpreserve.