Weymouth legacy continues

George A. "Frolic" Weymouth was one of the driving forces and founders of the Brandywine Conservancy and later the Brandywine River Museum. That was 50 years ago. Weymouth died in April 2016, but his legacy and efforts live on.

Today, Virginia "Ginny" Logan is the Frolic Weymouth executive director and CEO of the Brandywine Conservancy and River Museum of Art. She told members of the Chadds Ford Business Association that the efforts to conserve land and preserve art that begun a half-century ago are and will continue.

Logan addressed the group during its monthly meeting, held this time at a breakfast meeting at the museum's cafeteria on Nov. 2.

She told the story of the conservancy's founding, of how Weymouth and a few others, including the late artist Andrew Wyeth, were concerned about the possibility of a hard hat factory being built on the site of what is now known as Potts Meadow, at the corner of Route 1 and Creek Road.

Virginia Logan, the executive director of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art, addressing the Chadds Ford Business Association.

"Andrew Wyeth felt this was going to permanently change the character of Chadds Ford as a historic village and a community that was built around it were at risk," she said.

Wyeth contacted Weymouth — who was both an artist and a conservationist — to see what could be done to prevent the factory from going in, Logan said. Shortly after that, Hoffman's Mill, the home of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, went up for auction.

The efforts ultimately saved the meadow. Later, the museum came into existence with Wyeth donating the first pieces of art.

"I go back to the fact that the unique quality of the village, the community, the sense of place, the resources, the people, the history and the linkage to the Battle of the Brandywine, all of that was so important to our founding. I fast forward to today, and I look at one of the projects the Brandywine is supporting, Walkable Chadds Ford, and I think how very aligned the goals are," Logan said.

That project includes walking and bike trails along Route 1 as well as traffic calming devices to help slow traffic along the heavily trafficked truck route so that pedestrians can cross Route 1 to visit shops, restaurants and the museum. One of the trails, The Harvey Run Trail, opened in April during the conservancy's 50th anniversary celebration, is a joint effort between the conservancy and Chadds Ford Township.

"So people can stop and experience the beauty of the area and all the things that make Chadds Ford so beautiful," she said. "What we're trying to do is invite people into the community."

Logan went on, saying the conservancy wants to continue as a contributing member of the community, to plan programs as "part of a greater whole."

Programs other than Walkable Chadds Ford include the Brandywine Greenway, trying to preserve land on both sides of the Brandywine Creek, from its headwaters at Honey Brook all the way down to where the creek spills into the Christiana River in Wilmington.

She noted the irony in that the conservancy's founding documents include a discussion between Weymouth and the other founders of getting easements, called "the Green Ribbon" along the Brandywine from Downingtown to Chadds Ford to keep the water clean.

While a distinct project unto itself, Walkable Chadds Ford is also a part of the overall Greenway project.

Today, she said, there are 25 different municipalities working on the greenway project that aims to "create a much broader green belt around the Brandywine" to keep the water clean and preserve open space.

"Looking ahead, we want to be very much a vibrant part of this community and a community partner," Logan said.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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