Delaware’s “First State National Monument”
Woodlawn property in autumn. Photo by Jim Graham
Support For Woodlawn
- The list of Woodlawn Supporters includes dozens of businesses, elected officials, tribes, universities, museums, conservation groups, and community organizations.
- The bipartisan Delaware and Pennsylvania delegations have thrown their full support behind Woodlawn's national designation, with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper in the lead.
- Gov. Jack Markell called conserving the Woodlawn property “a triple win for Delaware’s quality of life, the economy, and the people’s health.”
- “The tremendously generous gift of 1,100 acres of woods and rolling pasture along the lush banks of the Brandywine is ideal for Delaware’s first national park.”—The News Journal (Wilmington)
- “This land has been a priority for protection since the Brandywine Conservancy was formed in 1967.”—Virginia Logan, executive director, Brandywine Conservancy
Did You Know?
The Woodlawn Trustees long kept the Woodlawn property unspoiled for the community and visitors to enjoy, with land preservation a top goal. But the time had come for the Trustees to sell the property, and that's why it's so important that The Conservation Fund acted, with support from Mt. Cuba Center. When the National Park Service evaluated the land's historic significance, it knew this special place belonged to all Americans. The Fund donated the land to the Park Service as a gift for future generations to enjoy.
“We wanted to see the Woodlawn property put to the best use and see it nationally recognized. Its unspoiled beauty, historical significance, and location near the Brandywine River make it a place that should not be kept a secret. We are grateful to have played a role in this historically significant designation.”
— Ann Rose, President, Mt. Cuba Center
The Obama Administration designated the First State National Monument in Delaware on March 25, 2013. Finally, more than 140 years after America’s first national park was created, all 50 states are represented in our park system.
The new monument includes three historic areas in Delaware: the Dover Green, the New Castle Court House complex, and a property known as Woodlawn in the Brandywine Valley.
The Conservation Fund’s Role
The Brandywine Valley represents the very start of America—a place where General Washington fought for independence, Benjamin Franklin printed ideas that changed lives, and artist Andrew Wyeth captured a pastoral beauty that defined our nation. The Brandywine River is truly one of our nation’s founding rivers.
The Conservation Fund purchased and protected the historic 1,100-acre Woodlawn property in 2012. The Woodlawn acquisition—made possible by a generous gift from Mt. Cuba Center and the property’s trustees’ desire to see the land protected for the public—galvanized a community ready for a national monument or park of its own. As the Fund discussed donating the Woodlawn property to the National Park Service, the community swelled with support. Hundreds turned out for a public hearing, over a thousand sent in support letters to congressional offices, and dozens more contributed to stories and editorials in favor of making Woodlawn a key part of a new national conservation land.
The Woodlawn Story
The Woodlawn property is located three miles north of Wilmington, De., along the Brandywine River in New Castle County, De., and Delaware County, Pa. The land has recently served as a wildlife preserve, urban park and recreation destination for the more than five million people who live within 25 miles of the property. Of the property’s 1,100 acres, 880 are in Delaware, with the remainder in Pennsylvania.
William Penn originally acquired Rockland Manor, which includes the Woodlawn property, from the Duke of York in 1682. Industrialist William Bancroft purchased the land in the 1900s, and the property has been maintained as open space all this time, even as development has encroached.
Across the board, elected officials, including the Governor of Delaware, the entire Delaware Congressional delegation, both Pennsylvania senators and Representative Meehan, as well as the New Castle County Council, endorsed Woodlawn as a property worthy of national recognition.
Could Woodlawn Become A National Park?
By designating Woodlawn and the other Delaware properties as a national monument, President Obama has given them the same status as any national park, such as the Grand Canyon. Once a site has been designated a national monument, Congress still has authority to designate it into a national park. In fact, almost half of the current national parks were first designated as national monuments. Efforts to convert the First State National Monument properties into a national park continue.