William Bancroft had a genuine concern for the development of parks and the protection of the natural environment. He was the prime mover in establishing the Wilmington Parks Commission, and under his leadership, the city acquired Brandywine Park and Rockford Park, the core of the city's park system. At a time when many people lived in crowded conditions with little open space, William Bancroft reserved land for neighborhood parks such as the Judy Johnson Park at Second and Clayton Streets, the playground next to Father Tucker Park (by St. Anthony's Church), Kosciusko Park off Broom Street, Haynes Park off Miller Road, and part of Canby Park on South Union Street. Bancroft also set aside land for a "boulevard or parkway stretching across the western part of the city, from near Rockford Park, southerly to Canby Park." This project, which took Woodlawn more than twenty years to complete, met with a number of obstacles including the need to move two cemeteries. Eventually, the beautiful tree-lined boulevard was completed and became part of the city park system. In 1932, four years after Bancroft's death, the city honored the man who made it possible by naming the boulevard "Bancroft Parkway."
William Bancroft found that development could pay for parkland. Woodlawn has accordingly developed certain holdings in order to provide the funds necessary to save key natural resource lands for preservation and public enjoyment.
In 2012, to ensure its perpetual preservation, Woodlawn donated 1,100 acres of land in the Brandywine Valley to the Rockford Woodlawn Fund. This land became part of the First State National Monument in 2013 and in December 2014, it became part of the First State National Historical Park.
Woodlawn still owns and maintains several hundred acres of land in Brandywine Hundred and nearby Pennsylvania. Though a portion of these lands are set aside for future development, a large portion remains open to the public for hiking, walking, and horseback riding which is provided by Woodlawn at no expense to the public.
Woodlawn invites members of the public, at their own risk, to walk, bike, and horse-back ride on the designated trails and grassy strips along the road frontage of this area, between 8:00 a.m. and dusk. Please do not cross or disturb fields in agricultural use. Parking is permitted only in designated locations between 8:00 a.m. and dusk. To preserve these lands for continued public enjoyment, Woodlawn requests that everyone observe the following rules:
There will be NO:
Woodlawn expects and appreciates observance of these rules.