Historic site to be preserved

A historic 553-acre swath of land in Chester County will be preserved after a yearlong project to keep it from development.

The Warwick Furnace Farm, along the French Creek in Warwick and East Nantmeal Townships, will be turned into a nature preserve and conserved through a joint effort involving the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust.

"It's hard to overstate the value of this property and its preservation," Cary Leptuck, French and Pickering board president, said in a statement Monday.

The trust is to open 108 acres as a nature preserve with public trails in 2016. An anonymous conservation-minded buyer purchased 381 acres to be put under a conservation easement with the trust, and the remaining 63 acres, which include historic buildings, are to be sold by the trust with easements preventing development.

The property has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1700s. It includes an ironmaster's manor house built in 1773 and the remains of an iron workers' village and furnace.

The project was supported by the two townships and the county as well as some conservation-oriented groups.

"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," said Ole Amundsen, program manager for the Conservation Fund. - Justine McDaniel