Well dayyyyyuummm people, now there’s a headline. Kirkwood Farm AKA the Jackson/Rockefeller farm in Willistown appears to have been sold to M. Knight Shyamalan? So this means Shyamalan accomplished what preservationists in Willistown failed to do? Because as you know this is yet another large land parcel with no conservation easements pre-existing, right? I think people would be surprised by the list of whose big properties do not have conservation easements other than Rock Hill Farm. But hey that is a story for another day.
Philadelphia Inquirer: M. Night Shyamalan bought a Chester County farm owned by the Rockefeller family for $24M
Conservationists in Willistown Township, Chester County were alarmed when the 200-acre Kirkwood Farm went on the market last January. But they see the new owner as a steward, not a developer.
by Kevin Riordan and Frank Kummer
Published Mar 24, 2023
A company traced to an address used by M. Night Shyamalan, writer and director of The Sixth Sense and Knock at the Cabin, has paid $24 million for a 210-acre Chester County property that was associated with generations of the Rockefeller family.
Public records show that Woodkirk LLC sold the Kirkwood Farm on Providence Road in Willistown Township to 944 Providence Road LLC for $24 million on March 14.
The registered address for 944 Providence LLC is on Campus Boulevard in Newtown Square. That is the same address used by the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation Inc., the famed director’s charitable organization.
Shyamalan, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, could not be reached for comment. He and his family live in Willistown on an estate called Ravenwood.
Conservationists who had feared hundreds of houses would be developed on the Willistown Township site known as Kirkwood Farm are relieved.
“The sale is going to have a conservation-minded outcome,” said Kate Etherington, executive director of the Willistown Conservation Trust. “Kirkwood Farm is not being sold to a developer. And we’re thrilled.”….
A rolling landscape of fields and woods in the center of Willistown — an 18-square mile community of 11,000 — the Kirkwood Farm was listed for $29.9 million, sales agent Lavinia Smerconish said.
Advertisements by Compass real estate described a property that was available “for the first time in 90 years” and offered “endless views” punctuated only by “five charming residences, two barns, a pond, a stream, and spring house.”
Smerconish said the property was sold by descendants of William Rockefeller Jr. who along with his brother, John D. Rockefeller, founded the Standard Oil company in 1870. The farm has belonged to generations of the Rockefeller family and in recent years has been used by members of a hunting club. The farmhouses have been rented to tenants, and two remain occupied, she said.
Public records show the property was associated with Almira R. Scott, daughter of William G. Rockefeller, once treasurer of Standard Oil. Notably, it was also associated with Hardie Scott, a former Republican U.S. representative who married into the Rockefeller family. Scott died in 1999 and appointed M. Roy Jackson, also a scion of the Rockefellers, and the Glenmede Trust Co., as executors. Jackson was a grandson of William Rockefeller Jr., who died in 1922.
Goodness the Inquirer sure scooped the rest of the media, didn’t they? And two of my favorite writers. Riordan and Kummer seem to be writing the stories that matter, the ones that people want to read. With the oddness that is print and television journalism these days, Chester County doesn’t get the same coverage it used to. Of course I remember when The Philadelphia Inquirer had a Chester County Bureau in West Chester, and The Daily Local News had a whole fleet of reporters covering Chester County from all angles. But the state of print journalism is an entirely separate conversation as well. But the only other people to cover it was Philadelphia Business Journal. Of course when they shared it on their Facebook page lots of comments ensued:
Heavy sigh. I am always amazed at what people don’t know about how government works either on a local level or state level. Yes I agree wholeheartedly that we need to have less development but people have no idea what has to happen to make that happen.
Local development is ruled by The Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania AKA the “MPC.” The MPC requires an act of the State Constitution to comprehensively change and update it. It has not been comprehensively updated since I think either 1968 or 1969. Interesting to note for Chester County residents the gargantuan development known as Chesterbrook was allowed to be built because of this code, correct public officials? For a little background on Chesterbrook read THIS.)
When the MPC was created, suburbs and exurbs looked different and were defined differently. But because this is the Bible that guides all the local zoning in the state, when elected officials literally tell you they can’t do things a lot of the time it’s because they can’t do things a lot of the time. But your state elected officials can indeed do things like enact an act of the state constitution and update the MPC. If they actually did that then we could have better and more meaningful historic preservation, land preservation, land conservation and possibly even some restrictions on development and as far as how much we have to have and what communities can say no to.
As it stands, property owners don’t (IMHO) have that much that makes historic preservation and land conservation appealing. If it was more appealing and if there were more tax breaks then maybe more would conserve and preserve. No maybe these are just my opinions but I don’t think so. All you have to do is literally look at the parcels of land in Willistown (and elwhich are not under conservation easements. One of the comments mentioned a place called Sweetwater farm. I didn’t even know that was for sale I thought that had sold a while back. (According to RedFin in 2021.)
So back to 944 Providence Rd in Willistown. So if M. Night Shyamalan has bought it, he achieved what no one else could and beat out developers. I remember when this place got listed it went under agreement I thought fairly quickly and then I never heard anything else about it. So I had forgotten about this, truthfully. Wonder what the fence protesters of Willistown think of him now?
M. Night Victorious in Fence Nightmare
TMZ 11/6/2007 3:40 PM PT
It isn’t a pretty fence, but M. Night Shyamalan gets to keep it!
A judge in Chester County, Penn. has ruled that the “Sixth Sense” director can keep his 123-acre property wrapped in this yucky 8-foot high green mesh — much to the horror of his neighbors. I see pissed-off people!
Residents of Willistown Township complained that the plastic netting was an eyesore, but local officials ultimately sided with the filmmaker, who argued it was the only way to keep deer from decimating a network of floral gardens on the property he purchased in September 2006.
Hopefully they just thank M. Night Shyamalan and leave him alone this time, but pro-tip to him: it’s Willistown so don’t try to have a flower farm and avoid conversations about sewer sales and miles of concrete sidewalks…..
Willistown, Willistown, Willistown it’s always entertaining to learn your news.
Excellent article, Carla!
Right on about the MPC
Always nice when you can drop $24mm to buy the property across the street from your massive estate. Ultimate NIMBY move 😂
So what? It’s his money to spend. How about being grateful that it’s not turning into McMansions or townhouses or apartment towers?