A Gift to the Main Line
If you’ve been around Villanova University you may have noticed the carved bunnies across County Line Road dressed joyously for each of the upcoming holidays. This tradition began years ago when a large tree needed to be taken down and the owners, the Haas family, had bunnies carved high on the remaining stump (Haas is the German/Dutch form of hare). Subsequently the bunnies were dressed for Easter and many of the ensuing holidays. The haberdashered hares were a bit of fun just for passers-by but showed the generous spirit of the property owners who then went on to donate the 42 acre site, Stoneleigh, to Natural Lands (a non-profit who protects open land for the benefit of wildlife and people) for the benefit of local residents.
Stoneleigh opened to the public on May 12, 2018 after Natural Lands spent two years of preparation. But the grounds were in actuality over a century in the planning and making. Originally designed by the Omsted Brothers in the early 1900’s. (Their father designed New York’s central park). Centered in the property is the 17,000 sq. ft. Tudor/Jacobean mansion which now houses the Organ Historical Society on the 2nd floor. Interestingly, the house was originally designed in a combination of Gothic Revival and Second Empire styles complete with a Mansard roof and iron cresting on the rooftop. It was later changed to its current style by the second owner in the early 1900’s.
Stoneleigh is now designed to emphasize native plantings and offers 2.5 miles of trails and paved walkways winding through some of the oldest trees of their species in the state.
Natural Lands has plans to offer public tours of the grounds, classes, bird watching tours and other programming including organ performances, gardening and sustainable gardening classes.
1829 East County Line Road, Villanova, PA 19085.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. (Parking Available)