French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust Preserves Birthplace of Iron Industry, 553 Acres of Warwick Furnace Farm

The Ironmaster's Manor, first built in 1733
The Ironmaster's Manor, first built in 1733
The iron master’s manor house, built in 1733, remains of an ironworkers’ village and furnace, woods, pastures and farmland, comprise Warwick Furnace Farm, which has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1700s.

Despite looming development all around it, land upon which Revolutionary War hero George Washington sought refuge at to reload after the Battle of Brandywine will remain unchanged for future generations.

The 553-acre Warwick Furnace Farm on French Creek southwest of Pottstown has been acquired by the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust in the second of a one-two preservation punch that also recently involved accepting 553 acres within walking distance of the Warwick Furnace Farm from The Nature Conservancy.

“Three hundred years ago, the iron and steel industry started in Pennsylvania right here,” Warwick Township Board of Supervisors Chair Charles Jacob said. “The protection of this property is important to the township for both its historic and environmental significance.”

The trust anticipates opening up a 108-acre public nature preserve within the acquired parcel — its largest ever — sometime in 2016 with walking trails.

The Warwick Furnace Farm.
In an agreement reached by French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, Warwick Furnace Farm, a 553-acre historically and environmentally significant property in Warwick and East Nantmeal townships in Chester County, will be preserved forever.

“In this one project, you have a site of historic significance going all the way back to the Revolutionary War, the striking architecture of the buildings, the impact of restoring the forest to help improve the water quality of French Creek, and the truly amazing and stunning scenic value of this landscape nestled in the narrow valley,” The Conservation Fund Program Manager Ole Amundsen said.

The deal comes at the climax of a year of negotiations with local landowners, the Open Space Institute and funds from the William Penn Foundation under the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, Warwick and East Nantmeal townships, Chester County through its Department of Open Space Preservation, The Conservation Fund and conservation-minded residents.

“It’s hard to overstate the value of this property and its preservation,” French & Pickering Board President Cary Leptuck said. “Furthermore, it might have been broken into as many as 80 building lots.”

An additional 381 acres has been sold under a conservation easement, as will be the 63 acres that contain the ironmaster’s manor house, built in 1733; remains of an iron workers’ village and furnace; and woods, pastures and farmland that has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1700s.

Read more about the recent conservation efforts surrounding the Warwick Furance Farm in VISTA Today here.

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