Natural Lands Trust acquired the 42-acre Villanova, PA, estate known as Stoneleigh in April, 2016, through a generous donation from the family of the late John and Chara Haas. The property includes stately trees, winding pathways, and lush gardens that the Haas family carefully stewarded over the decades. The gardens were designed by a number of notable landscape architects over the past century—including Olmsted Brothers, sons of the famed Frederick Law Olmsted.
Natural Lands Trust strives to maintain the spirit and framework of the existing landscape design while, over time, adding native plants and replacing some specimens that have grown out of scale. “We envision Stoneleigh as a showcase for blending the aesthetic beauty of designed gardens with the natural richness of native habitats that are essential to the health of our planet,” said Natural Lands Trust President Molly Morrison.
After a period of transition, Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden will be open—free-of-charge—to visitors. It is expected to take approximately 18 months to make the improvements needed to transform the property from a family home to a public garden.
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Readying Stoneleigh for Visitors
Our vision for the property is a place where visitors will be able to enjoy the quiet and beauty of the Stoneleigh grounds and be motivated to learn about the joys and benefits of native plant gardening. These photos show the first steps of our Stoneleigh transformation.
Springtime at Stoneleigh
Stoneleigh as it looked in April, 2016, when the estate of John and Chara Haas donated the property to Natural Lands Trust.
Historical Photos of Stoneleigh
Stoneleigh’s history dates back to 1877 when Edmund Smith, a rising executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, purchased 65 acres of land in Villanova and constructed a residence there. In 1932, Otto Haas, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Rohm and Haas Company, purchased the southwestern portion of the estate. Otto and Phoebe’s son, John, and his wife, Chara, acquired Stoneleigh in 1964 and lived there for the next five decades with their five children.