Willistown Twp.’s Kirkwood Farm Will Become A Nature Preserve

Kirkwood Farm

Part of the property purchased by M. Night Shyamalan will become a 90-acre preserve

Willistown Conservation Trust worked with Shyamalan, Firstrust Bank and Chester County commissioners to purchase and protect the land.

by Melissa Jacobs

Remember when when Oscar-winning filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan purchased Kirkwood Farm, the 218-acre Chester County property that was once owned by the Rockefeller family? In true Shyamalan fashion, there’s a plot twist. Part of the Willistown Twp. farm – a generous 90-acres of it – will become a protected nature preserve that, when completed, will be open to the public.

Willistown Conservation Trust announced the June 2 deal, which apparently had been a long time in the making. With the support of Firstrust Bank and a $500,000 grant from Chester County commissioners, WCT purchased the 90 acres from Shyamalan for $9 million. While that is a lot of money, WCT leaders were clear that Shyamalan gave them a deal that made it possible for them to buy the land.

“The chance to acquire and protect another portion of Kirkwood Farm is a dream come true for Willistown Conservation Trust,” said Kate Etherington, WCT president and its executive director. “This future preserve will be an incredible asset to our community by providing public open space for all to enjoy, while protecting its abundant natural resources for generations to come.”  WCT Board Chair John Stoviak added, “We are very grateful to Willistown Township, Chester County, Firstrust Bank, and WCT’s supporters for helping WCT pursue this game-changing opportunity.”

Map courtesy of Willistown Conservation Trust

WCT’s plans for Kirkwood Preserve include establishing new trails here, restoring habitat, creating stream buffers, and planting native wildflower meadows to benefit wildlife. The future preserve’s natural resources include rolling hills and grasslands, mature woodlands, and two headwater tributaries to the Ridley Creek, designated as High Quality Waters by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The land provides prime habitat for numerous species of wildlife and includes critical areas for declining numbers of nesting and migratory birds. 

Kirkwood Farm
Part of the future Kirkwood Preserve. Photo courtesy of Willistown Conservation Trust.

Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline issued a joint statement that read: “The beauty of Kirkwood Farm can be found in both its spectacular landscape and vistas, as well as its ability to be publicly accessible in the near future, with planned parking and connections to surrounding preserved land. We are very pleased to partner with Willistown Conservation Trust on this project and thank them for their diligence in ensuring this portion of Kirkwood Farm remains forever protected.” 


  • 1700s | Kirkwood Farm is established on Lenni Lenape land.
  • 1900s | The land is owned by descendants of the Rockefeller family for 100+ years.
  • 2004 | WCT helps to acquire and preserve 350 of Kirkwood Farm’s original 550 acres, resulting in the permanent protection of two tracts of land and the creation of Kirkwood Preserve (855 Grubbs Mill Rd.).
  • 2022 | The remaining portion of Kirkwood Farm is listed for sale.
  • 2023 | Kirkwood Farm is purchased by conservation-minded buyer M. Night Shyamalan who works with WCT to create plans for a 90-acre public preserve.

Love this story? Share it!

Connect with Main Line Tonight

Leave a Reply