Spar Hill Farm reopens in Kennett

Spar Hill Farm and Preserve officially reopened Saturday to the public, almost five years after Kennett Township bought the open space and months after a number of structures on the property were demolished for safety reasons.

“This is the first time that name has been used as a title for this facility and space, and we’re really excited to be able to do it here with you today,” Kennett Township Supervisor Scudder Stevens said Saturday at a special grand opening ceremony.

“Before us here are over 100 acres of rolling meadows and woodlands stretching from Burnt Mill Road to the Delaware state line and south,” said Kennett Township Supervisors’ Chairman Geoffrey Gamble. “It’s a good feeling to know that this land will never be commercially developed and will forever be a rich patrimony for the benefit of those who will follow us along the corridors of time.”

Kennett Township bought the 100-plus-acre property in 2018. It is considered one of the oldest agricultural facilities in the township, Stevens said, and at different points in time contained two open pit feldspar mines, a turkey farm, and a dairy farm.

“The appearance today may suggest a humble existence, but in the late 1800s this was one of the most successful farms in Kennett Township,” said Linda Dillow, speaking at Saturday’s grand reopening about the history of the property. “The [Kennett Township] Historic Commission hopes to be able to use these structures and remains as an educational resource and example of historic farming practices in the township.”

The acquisition of the Spar Hill Farm and Preserve was a result of collaboration between the township, Kennett’s Land Conservation Advisory Council (LCAC), the township Historical Commission, the Mt. Cuba Center, the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, and others.

Stevens praised the Shutt family, the former owners of the property, for their “deep commitment to conservation in Kennett Township.” He said that Gwen Lacy, the founder of the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, had been in discussions with the Shutts about 10 years ago about conserving and preserving the land. When the Shutt matriarch died, Wilmington Trust, which managed her estate, continued the conversations with the Land Conservancy and the township.

“Also in that same period of time Jeff Yetter learned of the interest of Mt. Cuba to conserve real estate within a 100-mile geographic radius of Mt. Cuba,” Stevens said, adding that Mt. Cuba gave Kennett Township $1.3 million for land acquisition and that $1.2 million was used to help purchase Spar Hill.

“None of this would have been possible without the invaluable and active involvement of the Shutt family, Ann Rose, and Mt. Cuba, the Wilmington Trust Co. for working with us, Eden [Ratliff, the Kennett Township manager], and the Kennett Township staff for guidance and support, Jeff Yetter and the LCAC and the historical commission for helping the supervisors keep a focus on seeing the possibilities that are here,” Stevens added. “And to the public at large for supporting us and our commitment to preserving open space in Kennett Township.”

Spar Hill Farm and Preserve is at 434 Burnt Mill Road.

About Monica Fragale

Monica Thompson Fragale is a freelance reporter who spent her life dreaming of being in the newspaper business. That dream came true after college when she started working at The Kennett Paper and, years later The Reporter newspaper in Lansdale and other dailies. She turned to non-profit work after her first daughter was born and spent the next 13 years in that field. But while you can take the girl out of journalism, you can’t take journalism out of the girl. Offers to freelance sparked the writing bug again started her fingers happily tapping away on the keyboard. Monica lives with her husband and two children in Kennett Square.



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