Brandywine Conservancy Wins Uphill Battle to Acquire Skirmish Hill

Roberta “Bobby” Odell
Image via Kat Hast.
Roberta “Bobby” Odell.

It’s been quite an uphill battle for the Brandywine Conservancy to acquire the final piece of land, Skirmish Hill Farm. A 25-year battle at that. Roberta “Bobby” Odell was the matriarch living alone on the 13 acres of the historic Brandywine Battlefield land, writes J.F. Pirro for Main Line Today.  

At 90 years old, Odell was still riding horses on the farmland she refused to give up. In its heyday, Odell’s farm was known for its oddities. A Scottish bull, four white mules an ostrich-like animal and a zebra named Zippy all graced the historic land that she called home.  

Despite its best efforts, Brandywine could not convince the strong-willed matriarch to give up the final piece.  

“I didn’t know Roberta Odell, but she was a tough negotiator,” Stephanie Armpriester, Brandywine Conservancy’s newly appointed director of conservation and stewardship. “Across the board, her family knew how valuable her property was.” 

While other landowners bit the bullet and sold their land to the conservancy 20 years ago, Odell stuck her heels in until she passed away at the ripe age of 93-years old in 2018.  

The conservancy finally purchased the land that May, and is now undertaking a plan to honor the history of Skirmish Hill also known as Birmingham Hill Preserve. It aims to honor the history of the Battle of Brandywine fought during the American Revolutionary War.  

It also aims to conserve natural resources and develop educational programs. The first phase of the project will include site restoration. A stable on Odell’s former property might be rehabilitated to a lecture facility or terrace. The plan also includes an expanded trail network.  

Read more about Skirmish Hill in Main Line Today.

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