The land which currently houses the Longwood Gardens has a rich cultural history dating back to when the native American tribe, Lenni Lenape, called the land home. The tribe were stewards of the land for thousands of years and evidence of their residence have been found all over the property.
However, in the year 1700, George Peirce, a Quaker farmer, purchased 402 acres of the land to build a farm for his family. The land was cleared and provided the family with rich soil and prosperity for decades.
In the year 1730, the son of George Peirce, Joshua, had a brick farmhouse built on the land – the house is still standing today. As the years went on, the property was passed down from generation to generation of the Peirce family and in the early 1800’s, 15 acres were used to plant and arboretum with rare tree species.
By the mid-19th century, the arboretum and the surrounding park became a popular place for members of the local community to gather. This was when the area received the name – Piece’s Park. Over the years, the park began to deteriorate and by 1906, a member of the community, Pierre du Pont, had purchased the land. His goal was to not only preserve the trees but to create a gorgeous formal garden filled with walking trails and European influenced landscaping.
Throughout the next few decades, du Pont built an open-air theatre, a 600-foot flower walk, formal gardens filled with fountains, and had built many new additions to the land. He purchased 25 pieces of land over the following years, growing the gardens to more than 900 acres.
His gardens became the hit place to attend garden parties and host special events. It was then that the gardens received their formal name – Longwood Gardens. Many changes occurring through the 1900’s, new directors, the addition of research and educational activities, sustainability and conservation efforts, and much more. Today, the gardens are known as some of the best in the world.