Brandywine Conservancy, Pennsylvania
Brandywine Battlefield. Photo by Chita Middleton, The Conservation Fund
David Shields of the Brandywine Conservancy often thinks about the fateful day in September 1777 when General George Washington’s troops defended against British forces along the banks of the Brandywine River near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. That bloody day witnessed the largest battle of the American Revolution, with heavy casualties on both sides.
Preserving lands within the Brandywine Battlefield National Historic Landmark—10 square miles of history designated by the National Park Service—has long been a priority for the land trust. “A tidal wave of development was washing over this entire area” in the early 1990s, Shields says. “Our goal was to purchase the five largest undeveloped properties in the Battlefield’s Meetinghouse Road corridor, where the heaviest fighting occurred.” Piece by piece, building layers of funding, the Conservancy and its partners protected all but one property.
In 2007, the Conservancy was able to complete this effort. Using a loan from The Conservation Fund, it purchased the largest and most historically prized 100 acres within the landmark. Visitors will forever be able to walk in the footsteps of Washington, Marquis de Lafayette and British Commander Sir William Howe, among thousands of others who fought.
“Blaine Phillips, The Conservation Fund’s regional director in Pennsylvania, heard about what we were doing and was very intrigued. The resulting TCF loan was critical to bridging the gap in our funding and securing the last piece of the historic Meetinghouse Road corridor.”
— David D. Shields, Associate Director