Natural Lands, the region’s oldest and largest land conservation organization, has acquired a conservation easement on 137 acres of the historic Ker-Feal property. Located in West Pikeland, Chester County, Ker-Feal was built in 1775 and purchased by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, founder of the Barnes Foundation, and his wife Laura in 1940 for use as a country getaway. Natural Lands partnered with The Barnes Foundation, Chester County, and West Pikeland Township to conserve the property.
Many associate Dr. Albert Barnes with the priceless art collection he displayed in Merion, Montgomery County, which was relocated to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia in 2012. Dr. Barnes and his wife, Laura Leggett Barnes, acquired an 18th century farmhouse in Chester Springs, Chester County in 1940 and called it “Ker-Feal.” Named after Barnes’s favorite dog, Fidèle de Port Manech, Ker-Feal translates to “Fidèle’s House” in Breton. He adopted the Brittany spaniel mix on a trip to France.
Notably, this easement protects and formalizes the status of the Horse-Shoe Trail, which cuts through Ker-Feal. The 140-mile Horse-Shoe Trail runs from Valley Forge National Historical Park to Harrisburg and crosses parks, game lands, and private property. While the Horse-Shoe Trail has always been on the Ker-Feal property, its status was never formalized until now.
“This is a success story on many levels—for open space, for history, and for outdoor recreation,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. “We are pleased to play a part in protecting this remarkable landscape.”
“We are grateful to Natural Lands, Chester County, and West Pikeland Township for the opportunity to preserve the open space and rural character of Ker-Feal for future generations. The proceeds from the easement have been designated by our board to be added to the Barnes Foundation’s endowment to further our educational mission,” said Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation.
In a joint statement, Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone, and Terence Farrell said: “This investment is a win-win for all of the conservation easement partners and the citizens of Chester County, and we are pleased to be able to help facilitate the preservation of the Ker-Feal acreage. This project is a perfect example of why Chester County is lauded for its ‘quality of place,’ and knowing that the proceeds will provide funding for the Barnes Foundation’s educational mission is a bonus. Yes, it is a win-win.”
“West Pikeland Township is grateful for the work done by the West Pikeland Land Trust and Natural Lands in working towards the preservation of this special property,” said Charlie Humphreys, chairman of the West Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors. “We also thank the Barnes Foundation for working with us to keep and enhance this historic resource.”
“The Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy is immensely grateful to Natural Lands, West Pikeland Township, and the Barnes Foundation for formally protecting the trail through Ker-Feal,” said Ingrid Cantarella-Fox, president of the Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy. “This mile-long section can now keep to the bucolic route laid out in 1935 when the trail was first established; running along the fields and through the woods on the eastern edge of the property, entirely off the road.”
Support for this conservation success came from Chester County and West Pikeland Township.