June 07, 2023
A portion of Chester County's Kirkwood Farm, which was purchased by M. Night Shyamalan earlier this year, will be sold to the Willistown Conservation Trust as part of a public preservation project, the environmental organization said on Wednesday.
The preservation group will open its 90 acres of the 218-acre farm to the public later this year, with walking trails connecting travelers, hikers and cyclists in the rolling hills and grasslands. The rest of the farm will continue to be owned by Shyamalan, who purchased the land in March to protect it from development.
Located across the street from Willistown Conservation Trust's headquarters on Plumstock and Providence roads in Newtown Square, the farm was listed for sale last fall and purchased by the "Knock at the Cabin" director this spring. The organization has spent the last several months working with Shyamalan on an agreement, which was finalized on Friday.
The land's natural resources include acres of grasslands, hills, woodlands and two tributaries to Ridley Creek. It provides habitat for wildlife, including nesting migratory birds whose numbers are declining. This portion of Kirkwood Farm is connected to other public preserves, including Rushton Woods Preserve, Kirkwood Preserve and Okehocking Preserve.
Once its new walking trails are up and running, the Willistown Preservation Trust plans to create stream buffers and plant native wildflowers.
"The chance to acquire and protect another portion of Kirkwood Farm is a dream come true for Willistown Conservation Trust," said Kate Etherington, the organization's president and executive director. "This future preserve will be an incredible asset to our community by providing public open space for all to enjoy, while protecting its abundant natural resources for generations to come."
The preservation project is already underway, with private funding and a $500,000 grant secured from the Chester County Commissioners.
"The beauty of Kirkwood Farm can be found in both its spectacular landscape and vistas, as well as its ability to be publicly accessible in the near future, with planned parking and connections to surrounding preserved land," County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline wrote.
Kirkwood Farm originally encapsulated 550 acres of land along the Willistown countryside with a history that traces back to the 1700s. The land, which includes five farmhouses and two barns, was owned and operated by descendants of the oil magnate William Rockefeller Jr. for more than 100 years before it was sold to the Pennsylvania-based director earlier this year, the Inquirer reported.