On May 17, 2018 the Friends of Radnor 284 was successful in purchasing a 2.2 acre parcel from the township, a portion of the property acquired as part of the open space purchase from the Ardrossan farm.
The story began in 1960 when the troop first moved to the property. Previously the troop had met at a cabin located on what is now O’Dorisio Park. The remains of the cabin can still be seen today in the form of a concrete slab and ruins of a fireplace chimney. When that property was purchased from the Scott Family by the Radnor Township School district the troop was forced to move and was offered use of the one room schoolhouse at the corner of Darby-Paoli and Godfrey Roads. The property was “in the middle of nowhere” at this time as the development of Lawrence Lane, Colony and Briarwood roads had not yet been completed. The schoolhouse was and is referred to as “The Cabin,” by the troop.
The Schoolhouse, sitting on just under one acre of land, in 1960 was is bad shape when the Scouts began using the property. Improvements such as replacing windows, a new roof and installation of wood burning stove were completed. The upkeep and maintenance of the property was the responsibility of the troop. Limited funds allowed for required maintenance, but deferred maintenance was often the norm. Most of the labor was performed by the scouts and parents.
Over the year’s attempts were made to acquire the land from the Scott family, so as not to be displaced at some time in the future. The rent being $1.00 per year, the incentive to spend on acquisition was not great. As the rumors of the sale of all or portions of the Ardrossan property began to circulate thoughts of acquisition became more front of mind. Discussions with Eddie Scott were cordial, but the answer was always, wait, maybe later, and ultimately, “ask the township.”
In March 2014, The Friends of Radnor 284, a 501c3, was formed with the express purpose of acquiring a portion of the Wheeler Field for use by Radnor Troop 284. The township was contacted, and an interest expressed in purchasing the property. The township was not interested in maintaining any more buildings, so it appeared to be a win-win. FOR284 began the process of raising funds for the purchase. An initial goal of 1 Million Dollars was set for fundraising with the intent to purchase up to 5 acres of land surrounding the Schoolhouse (The Cabin). Alumni, Alumni parents, current parents, scouts and community members came forward raising, to date, nearly half the original goal.
Radnor Township used a grant from the Natural Lands Trust to acquire the land, which was “spend a million, receive a million.” This left 2.2 acres available for the FOR284 to purchase from the township, at the same price paid. The land would now have a conservation easement placed on it, so development would never be possible.
Once the Radnor Township acquired the property FOR284 entered into an agreement of sale and proceeded with the subdivision process. After, four years of working on the project FOR284 closed on the property this past May. In the future FOR284 will work with the township when the Darby-Paoli Trail is constructed as the trail will come across the land in the right-of-way and some easements may need to be granted.
Plans are now proceeding to raise additional funds for deferred maintenance to the building, the last one room school house still standing in Radnor Township. A porch addition, a well, and a couple of sheds for ground maintenance equipment are also in the funding and planning stages. Ultimately there will be very little change to the open space quality of the property.
The scouts now have a permanent home and the ability to spread out a bit more during meetings. As the Troop prepares for the 100th anniversary in 2020, the acquisition of a small piece of this property is an exciting time for the scouts of Radnor Troop 284. More information, or to donate, can be found at http://www.FOR284.org.