A 13-acre tract on Birmingham Hill has been approved for purchase by the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees.
The parcel, about eight miles north of the Delaware line, is the final piece of the Brandywine’s 25-year effort to preserve over 500 contiguous acres around Meetinghouse Road in Birmingham Township, PA. The area was the scene of the fiercest fighting at the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brandywine.
Owned by the Estate of Roberta Odell, the 13-acre tract on Birmingham Hill was near the center of the Battle of Brandywine.
Once purchased, this tract will be merged with an adjacent 100-acre property previously acquired by Brandywine in 2007, bringing the total Battlefield acreage permanently protected in Meetinghouse Road Corridor to over 500.
The Conservancy operates a museum displaying the work of the Wyeth family of artists and others who took inspiration from the Brandywine landscape.
The scenic area has long been sought by developers who have clashed with neighbors and those interested in preserving the rural landscape.
By 2007, Brandywine and its partners had raised more than $16 million in public and private funds to acquire the properties and/or place conservation easements with the landowners, resulting in the permanent protection of 485 acres of the battlefield.
The remaining 13-acre parcel on Birmingham Hill is the final piece of this major fundraising effort. David Shields, associate director of the Brandywine Conservancy, stated that “piece by piece, and with the strong support of our major funders, our goal to protect the historic properties in the battlefield’s Meetinghouse Road corridor is nearing completion. This is a personally gratifying moment for me as I’ve been working on this project since its inception.”
Following the purchase and additional fundraising efforts, the Brandywine will develop a master plan for the combined properties. While the Brandywine is in the initial stages of planning for the use and management of the entire Birmingham Hill property, the initial goals will be to preserve the property’s historic integrity; conserve existing natural resources; provide opportunities for public visitation; develop interpretative and educational programs; and seek out qualified partners to work with the Brandywine to help realize the goals.
The Battle of Brandywine in 1777 was a pivotal battle of the Revolution.
The British had landed troops at the head of the Chesapeake Bay near Elkton. The force marched through northern Delaware with an engagement at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge south of Newark.
The British marched into Pennsylvania with British general Sir William Howe leading half his army on a 12-mile march, crossing the Brandywine five miles north of Chadds Ford, and took a strategic position on the heights of Osborne Hill overlooking the Birmingham Friends Meeting House.
The British were hoping to make a surprise assault on the rear of Washington’s Continental Army amassed as Chadds Ford.
On Birmingham Hill and neighboring parcels, Continental forces hastily formed into battle lines to defend against the British forces attacking from the north. More troops fought in the Battle of Brandywine than in any other battle of the American Revolution.
The battle lasted for 11 hours until darkness forced a halt. Both sides suffered heavy losses and while the Americans eventually retreated. The army held itself together while the British occupied Philadelphia.
The Brandywine Battlefield is designated as both a National Historic Landmark.