On March 25, 2013, President Obama designated the First State National Monument in Delaware, which had been the only state in the country without a national park site. After continuous effort, the monument was designated a National Historical Park in 2015. The Park includes three historic areas that tell the story of Delaware’s early settlement and its important role as the first state to ratify the Constitution: the Dover Green, the New Castle Court House complex, and a property in the Brandywine Valley known as Woodlawn.

Establishing Delaware’s First National Park Site

Located three miles north of Wilmington, along the Brandywine River, the Woodlawn property has 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’s 1,100 acres, 880 are in Delaware, with the remainder in Pennsylvania.

William Penn originally acquired Rockland Manor, which included 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 Delaware and Pennsylvania congressional delegations, as well as the New Castle County Council, endorsed Woodlawn as a property worthy of national recognition.

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 desire of the property’s trustees 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.


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.

Learn More

Delaware National Park Meeting

The Mt. Cuba Center: Protecting Land In Delaware Under The Radar