The Land Conservancy of Adams County, partnering with landowners Walter and Jeannette Smith in Franklin Township, permanently preserved nearly 10 acres of rural land south of Arendtsville.
The property consists of lowland meadow, a meandering creek protected by riparian woodland, and an immaculate 18th century stone home that witnessed 4,000 confederate troops travelling on the Mummasburg Road before the Battle of Gettysburg. Letters found on neighboring farms describe how these soldiers camped along the creek behind the Smith’s home.
“This parcel was important to protect since it fills in a gap between other preserved lands,” said the Land Conservancy of Adams County’s Conservation Director Sarah Kipp. “The property is nearly surrounded by farms on the north, east, and south that have been preserved through the county’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program. It also has much to appreciate on its own. I suspect many people already take an extra look as they drive by on Mummasburg Road to admire the Smiths’ beautifully restored stone home that sits just off the road, its front façade perpendicular to the street rather than facing it.”
The Smiths bought the property and its historic 1795 stone house at auction in 1989. “When this property came up for auction, we walked the property and saw how Crooked Creek runs through the back of the meadow, and we just loved it,” said Walter Smith. The Smiths had spent most of their careers in more urban surroundings and were longing to return to their rural roots—Jeannette grew up on New England dairy farms, and Walter hails from rural northern Delaware.
Once they purchased the property, the Smiths set to work restoring the house, replacing the roof, putting in a new kitchen, and stripping layer after layer of linoleum and plywood off the original hardwood floors. “We’ve put so much work into this place,” said Jeannette Smith. “After we got the house back together, we began the work of taking out the dead ash trees and planting native trees—we’ve planted a number of sycamores and maples as well as evergreens and oaks. We have all kinds of animals, which we enjoy: raccoons, woodchucks, snakes, birds, ducks, and geese build nests on the creek. We also have many deer that feed on the open land and live in the woods near the stream. Our intention when we purchased this property has been to make it a place that will always be open and a place that will stay that way.”
“Preserving this property is our way of giving back for the thirty-some years that we’ve enjoyed it,” said Walter. “After we’re gone, we hope the people who come after us will feel the same way about this home that we do.”
The Land Conservancy of Adams County is a nonprofit, member-supported land trust accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance’s Land Trust Accreditation Commission. The organization’s mission is to preserve the rural lands and character of Adams County, Pennsylvania. For more information about the Land Conservancy of Adams County, visit PreserveAdams.org.