Treasure in Cheltenham: Curtis Arboretum Master Plan Update

Julie Slavet
Jun 27, 2014

Curtis Arboretum, one of Cheltenham Township’s historic park treasures, is in the midst of a community-driven planning process, whose goal is to develop the arboretum into one a widely enjoyed public space, while restoring its landscaped grounds, Rock Creek riparian corridor, and woodlands. Over the past year, a committee of community members has provided input to Nancy Minich of NAM Planning and Design LLC (leader of the Master Plan process) and reviewed the many responses to the online survey posted on the township website last fall.

Curtis Arboretum

Donated to the township by the Curtis family, the property features historic Curtis Hall, which is extensively used by the township and community for concerts, meetings and events. The upper part of the property, still home to many beautiful, large and even rare trees, was designed as an arboretum by the famous Olmstead brothers in the 1930’s. Landscape architect Nancy Minich believes that Curtis is a hidden unique historic park treasure for the public to enjoy and appreciate.

The nearly 70-acre grounds include two spring-fed ponds, rolling slopes and curved drives. At the property’s lower end, Rock Creek runs through a restored wooded corridor on its way toward the Tookany Creek. Rock Creek is of course a critical area for water quality improvement identified by both TTF and the township. Native plantings help stabilize the banks and provide habitat for songbirds and wildlife. Reducing stormwater flow is critical to the restoration of this important, beautiful tributary. The long-term goal is to link this restored area to other upstream and downstream sections of the creek. Upstream, TTF and Cedarbrook Middle School have planted a riparian buffer and downstream, TTF and Rock Lane neighbors completed a forested buffer planting this past spring.

Curtis Arboretum Winter

TTF looks forward to supporting this preservation effort, which in conjunction with stream restoration and water quality improvements, will help to protect our historic, natural and community assets.

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