Stoneleigh as a Case Study in Architectural and Land Preservation
Lower Merion Conservancy
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
Historic Preservation and Conservation
This thesis examines Stoneleigh, a recently preserved historic landscape garden and Tudor Revival House in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania. An eminent domain legal challenge threatened the permanent protection of this estate, which was set through Façade and Conservation Easements. John and Chara Haas, Stoneleigh’s last private owners recognized the property’s naturalistic values and created a Conservation Easement for the property with Natural Lands. Natural Lands, a region-wide land trust serving Southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, owns Stoneleigh. This land trust created a facade easement for Stoneleigh’s grand house. The Lower Merion Conservancy and the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia monitor the estate’s easements. In May of 2018, Natural Lands planned to open Stoneleigh as a public garden, the Lower Merion School Board instigated a potential taking through eminent domain. This threat to the estate’s preservation spurred support of the property from around the region. Stoneleigh’s value lies in its role as a historic site and preserved open space in a densely populated suburban community. The thesis argues that Stoneleigh’s case provides connections between historic and land preservation organizations, and closer collaboration between these organizations will be critical in the future. Both of these organizations have similar goals, aiming to protect historic resources and everyday locations. With added development pressures, preservationists on local and state levels will need to strengthen current laws for protecting historic properties. Greater collaboration between historic and land preservation groups protecting both natural and cultural resources have the potential of strengthening laws for preserving historic places.