Natural Lands Trust Breaks Ground on Lenfest Center at ChesLen Preserve
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2012
Kirsten Werner, Director of Communications
610-353-5587, ext. 267
Media, Pa. – Representatives of Natural Lands Trust were joined by local and county officials and philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest as they broke ground today on the Lenfest Center, the future home for the organization’s conservation work at the 1,263-acre ChesLen Preserve in Newlin Township, Chester County.
“When ChesLen Preserve was established five years ago, we were honored to be given the opportunity to steward this natural gem,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “The Lenfest Center will help us to fulfill that charge even more effectively and will make the preserve a vibrant place where the community can help care for and learn about nature.”
The Lenfest Center will provide offices and maintenance facilities for the preserve’s management staff, as well as gathering spaces for visitors, volunteers, and local community groups. The 9,300-square-foot facility was designed by Archer and Buchanan Architecture, Ltd. and includes both indoor and outdoor spaces. The building features green design elements such as geothermal heating and cooling, high-efficiency lighting, and recycled materials. The 20-acre grounds around the building, designed by Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects, will include native grass meadows, rain gardens, and more than one hundred native trees and shrubs.
The building will be named for Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, whose generous support has made the facility possible.
“I give great credit to Molly Morrison and Natural Lands Trust for presenting me with the opportunity to preserve this land in perpetuity,” said Gerry Lenfest. Noting the large gathering at the groundbreaking ceremony, Marguerite Lenfest added, “The Lenfest Center is a great vision with a great team of people behind it.”
“It’s been quite a week for Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest,” noted Peter Hausmann, chairman of Natural Lands Trust’s Board of Trustees, referring to the recent opening of the Barnes Foundation of which the Lenfests are major benefactors. “The New York Times wrote about the new Barnes Foundation in terms of ‘color, composition, theme, surface, and light.’ Our ChesLen Preserve could be described in the same way. With the new Lenfest Center, Natural Lands Trust will have all the tools to be excellent stewards of this land… forever.”
ChesLen Preserve was established in 2007 as a result of a donation of land by the Lenfests and a transfer of parkland from Chester County. A later purchase of 195 acres expanded the preserve to its current 1,263 acres. Formerly part of the famous King Ranch, the preserve features sweeping agricultural fields, densely wooded stream corridors, two miles of the West Branch Brandywine Creek, and rare serpentine barrens that are a state-designated “Wild Plant Sanctuary.”
Officials from Newlin Township and Chester County participated in the ceremony. Newlin Township Supervisor Bill Kelsall noted, “On behalf of Janie Baird, Robert Pearson, and the Board of Newlin Township, I’d like to thank Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest for their longstanding generosity and benevolence to the residents of Newlin Township. It brings us great pleasure to have the ChesLen Preserve in Newlin Township. The new Lenfest Center will be a treasure for years to come for all who visit and enjoy the beauty of Chester County.”
“Much of the success of Chester County’s open space program and accomplishments are due to the tremendous support of private conservation and philanthropy. The creation of the Lenfest Center is a perfect example of this,” said Chester County Commissioner Chair Terence Farrell.
“The planned use of recycled building materials, geothermal energy, and incorporation of two rain gardens will make the Lenfest Center a fitting representation of Natural Land Trust’s balanced approach to conservation and land management and will serve as a model for others to emulate,” said Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.
Added Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello, “We are here today to celebrate the beginning of a legacy that will provide benefits to the environment and our community for future generations.”
Construction of the Lenfest Center is slated to be completed early in 2013. The construction management firm is Norwood Construction and Athenian Razak is the development advisor.
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Natural Lands Trust owns and manages 40 nature preserves totaling more than 21,000 acres, and holds conservation easements and other restrictions on nearly 20,000 acres.