Park History

Linwood Park is a one-acre garden park in Ardmore, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, PA. It was formerly a parking lot for the Christ Scientist Church across the street. Over the years, many in the neighborhood had utlized the lot to teach their kids to ride bikes, scooter on, or just have a free space without fear of cars ( the parking lot was used only on Sundays and barely half full even then as the church congregation dwindled). The lot was sold to a developer approximately 7 years ago. When the neigborhood heard that the developer was planning on building up to 8 houses on the lot, in an already densely populated first-ring suburb, people got together and explored the potential of buying the lot from the developer to keep it as open space. At a million dollars an acre, the going rate in 2007, it seemed an impossible task. But the neighbors did what they could and raised 35,000 dollars in good faith money if the Township would explore the possiblity of using Growing Greener funds to purchase the property to be developed as permanently preserved Open Space. The need for open space in this area of the Township had been identified in the 2006 Lower Merion Township Open Space Plan, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Through hard work by Township staff, including assistant director of Building and Planning, CHris Leswing, and then-Commissioner Jane Dellheim, alongside the neighbors, volunteers, and advocates for the lot to become a park, the dream was realized. The 35,000.00 was used to fund design costs by local Landscape Architects Kim Douglas and Sarah Schuh to design the park hardscape for optimal storm water filtration and drainage with rain gardens within the park and a traffic calming bump-out rain garden on the street corner. HUD funds were used for construction costs. Once that was said and done, the park opened in May of 2010. There was no more money coming from the Township and there were barely any plants in the park! The fledging, all volunteer Friends of Linwood Park group that had formed while it was still a parking lot had to come into full force and fill the park with plants and programming. Through small donations from neighbors and local businesses, plant divisions from neighbors, digging up plants from houses in the Twosnhip that were slated for demolition and starting a plant nursery at the local elementary school, the Friends have slowly and steadily made Linwood Park into a horticultural gem and a beautiful habitat for people and animals. It is a place where family and friends meet. A truly public garden with free events, including a variety of environmental education programs. Collaboration with local businesses, churches, and other nonprofits is ongoing and and important aspect of the Park’s success.The still all-volunteer and much stronger Friends of Linwood does all the programming and 99% of the maintenance and improvements. Linwood Park and the Friends group serves as model to inspire others for its ability to function well on small donations of money and time from a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Linwood Park is a model for a first-class, sustainable park in a suburban neighborhood modeled on first-class urban parks of the region.