Timeline of Events

Please Note: All historical pages on this website are considered works in progress. Writing will be adjusted as more information becomes available. If you have a source that could improve or correct our information, please reach out to us.

  • 1600 Charles Pickering Seeks His Fortune

    “In the late 1600s, not long after Philadelphia had been settled, Charles Pickering, an Englishman who crossed the Atlantic with William Penn, came up the Schuylkill River in search of treasure in Chester County. Upon arriving in the stream which now bears his name, Pickering discovered what he believed to be “traces of silver.” Thinking he could make a fortune on this finding, he returned to Philadelphia and purchased a land grant from William Penn for several thousand acres. Pickering returned to the area with a friend named Tinker who had mining experience. Together they dug a cave in the side of a hill, made a roof and laid a stone floor, and began mining the metal. This cave would become the first dwelling built by a European settler in our area. Not long after his venture, Charles Pickering died and his land, which consisted of 5,386 acres known as the Pickering Tract and Mine Hole Tract, was divided between 16 of his friends. The naming of the earliest neighborhoods derived from Pickering, including Charlestown, which originally included present-day Charlestown and Schuylkill Townships, and the Borough of Phoenixville.”

    Source: https://phoenixvillechamber.org/discover-phoenixville/history-of-phoenixville/

  • 1724 Job Harvey Begins Operation of Charlestown Mill

    As part of a 540 acre purchase from Samuel Carpenter, Job Harvey begins operation of a cotton and wool textile mill near Pickering Creek.

    Source: http://www.charlestown.pa.us/historical_mill.aspx

  • 1780 Spring House is Built

    Built to house a valuable water source, the spring house pre-dates all other buildings on the actual Swiss Pines property.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1821 Three Story Manor House is Built

    The stately three story manor house is built. The original builders are not known but Arnold Bartschi had this to say of the gentleman who may have funded the construction:

    “I’m the third owner of this property. This land was part of the 5,000 acre Pickering Grant. The first owner, an englishman, got the grant from the king and tried to exploit the land for mining iron, graphite, and lead. He went back to England, did something crooked, and they hung him.”

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1823 Primary Barn is Built

    Shortly after the construction of the manor house a large, multi-story barn is built.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1857 William H. Llewellyn is Born

    The birth of a man who would become integral in the development of this property, predating and influencing Arnold Bartschi.

  • 1895 William H. Llewellyn Acquires Charlestown Land and Buildings

    After establishing himself as a renowned druggist (pharmacist) in the Philadelphia region, Llewellyn expands his personal holdings by purchasing the Charlestown plot that would later become Swiss Pines. In the purchase he acquires existing buildings on the property, such as the manor house, barn, and spring house.

    Llewellyn is a man of horticulture and travel. In the early 1900s he acquires four statues from the far east during his foreign visits and places them near a creek at the foot of a hill on his property. He also becomes enamored of foreign trees, such as iris and phlox. He develops a Victorian garden near the manor house.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1903 Arnold Bartschi is Born

    Arnold Bartschi is born on July 25, 1903 in Switzerland. Arnold would go on to become the developer and most influential man in the history of Swiss Pines.

  • 1908 Eva Cohen is Born

    Eva Cohen, who would go on to become an important partner and romantic interest in Arnold Bartschi’s life, is born.

  • 1917 Joanna Reed, Expert Gardener and Herb Specialist, is Born

    Joanna Reed, who would go on to be a locally renowned gardener and influential figure in Swiss Pines history, is born.

    Source: http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?95,263509

  • 1920 Arnold Bartschi Travels to the United States to Become a Businessman

    Arnold Bartschi begins his career in the shoe trade by taking on an apprenticeship in Paris, France. Upon his return to Switzerland he begins working for Bally Shoe Co.

    Somewhere between 1920 and 1927 (conflicting sources) Bartschi is sent to Brooklyn, New York by Bally Shoe Co. in order to learn English and work in their factory. He quickly proves himself competent and rises through the ranks. By 1928 he is hired in Cincinnati as a factory manager.

    Sources: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Gardens of Philadelphia & the Delaware Valley, West Chester Daily Local News, http://www.jgarden.org/gardens.asp?ID=369

  • 1925 Hiroshi Makita is Born

    Hiroshi Makita is born in Japan. Makita is adopted by Zen monks of the Rinzai Sect at the temple of Fusaiji, Nagano Prefecture on the island of Honshu, Japan, where he lives for 16 years. During his time there he learns the deepest aspects of Zen Buddhism and its connection to garden experiences.

    Source: https://www.houzz.com/discussions/1991253/hiroshi-makita, Architectural Digest

  • 1926 William H. Llewellyn Dies and Wills his Wealth to Henry G. Swartley

    In 1926 William passed away and bequeathed his sizable fortune to Henry G. Swartley, a protégé and confidant. Swartley began as an assistant to Llewellyn in the pharmaceutical field but eventually proved capable enough to manage stores and act as travelling companion to William. The property and cash assets were valued at just under $1 million (which in 1926 was no small allowance).

    Disputes over the property and fortune arose immediately. Llewellyn’s cousins were determined to fight Swartley for control. However, evidence that Llewellyn had no significant contact or affection for his cousins swung the courts in favor of Swartley, and by 1928 the legal matter was closed naming Swartley as the sole inheritor.

    According to the Daily Local News in 1928:

    Regarding Llewellyn and Swartley – “‘Both were druggists,’ said Judge Stearne in his opinion. “There was a close intimate and harmonious relationship existing between them for an unbroken period of approximately 37 years. The situation was an unusual one, but under the facts a natural one. The mutual attachment, as it ripened during the years, was orderly and progressive.”

    “The property at Charlestown is one of the show places of this region. Mr. Llewellyn, born and raised in this vicinity and at one time employed as a clerk in a Main street store, achieved wonderful success in Philadelphia, being rated as a millionaire. Some years ago he returned to the community in which he was raised and erected the wonderful home at Charlestown and surrounded this home with one of the finest gardens to be found anywhere in the east. The “Llewellyn Gardens,” as they are known, are visited annually by thousands of people and are open every week-day, except Sunday. Mr. Swartley and his family have been residing at Charlestown ever since Mr. Llewellyn’s death.”

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://sites.rootsweb.com/~pacheste/chester_nwsprbits_charltwn_peopl.htm

  • 1930 Arnold Bartschi Begins Work for J. Edwards Shoe Co.

    In 1930 Bartschi moved to Philadelphia where he began work for J. Edwards Shoe and Co. It was here that Bartschi established himself as a leader and innovator.

  • 1940 Henriette Bumeder is Born | Carl Shindle is Born

    Henriette Bumeder is born July 15, 1940 in Austria. She eventually moves to the United States and connects with Arnold Bartschi.

    Carl Shindle is born. Carl goes on to be one of the most enduring figures responsible for the upkeep of Swiss Pines.

    Source: https://www.gatchafuneral.com/obituary/Henriette-Bumeder, West Chester Daily News

  • 1944 Bartschi Purchases the J. Edwards Shoe Company

    In 1944 Bartschi organizes a purchase of the J. Edwards company for $1 million. Bartschi doesn’t have the liquid capital to buy the company alone, so he recruits a number of financial partners. Bartschi is named chief operating officer of the company and for the next 25 years oversees its growth, developing three additional manufacturing plants and expanding production significantly.

  • 1957 Arnold Bartschi Purchases the Llewellyn Estate and Lands

    In 1957 Bartschi begins a search for additional land to build warehouses. He travels down the main line to rural Charlestown Township, which is considered quite rustic compared to metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia and Malvern. Bartschi discovers the Llewellyn estate and manor which had been left vacant for some time. He becomes enamored with the natural beauty of the area and decides to purchase the estate. All told he acquired 520 acres, 32 houses, and 1 apartment building.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1957 Arnold Bartschi Crafts the Idea for Swiss Pines

    Bartschi quickly realizes that he wants his Charlestown Township land to be used for recreation and not for business. While wandering his estate he discovers a handful of Japanese statuary placed there years early by William Llewellyn. He also discovers a grove of Swiss Stone Pine trees, which reminds him of his home in Switzerland.

    An avid traveler and horticulturalist, Bartschi decides to transform the property into an extensive garden space, the cornerstone of which would be a multi-acre Japanese garden. Inspired by the grove of trees he discovered, he opts to name the property “Swiss Pines.”

  • 1958 The Bartschi Foundation is Formed

    March 20th, 1958, Arnold Bartschi establishes the Bartschi Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to oversee the development of his gardens and create a more public-facing experience. The formation of the foundation is done in collaboration with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

    Established as trustees are Arnold Bartschi, John R. Clark, Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank, and A. Douglas Oliver.

    Source: Academy of Natural Science and The Bartschi Foundation Deed of Trust

  • 1959 David Engel is Tapped to Plan the Garden

    David Engel, New York landscape architect and renowned specialist in Japanese gardens, is recruited to help create the first five year plan of the garden. Bartschi, realizing the limitations of his own experience but not limited by imagination or money, is able to secure high profile assistance to bring his vision to life.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1959 Charles E. Mohr Named Director of Swiss Pines

    Charles E. Mohr, former education director of the Academy of Natural Sciences, is named director of Swiss Pines.

    Source: Academy of Natural Sciences

    Image reproduced for educational purposes from The Emporia Gazette

  • 1962 Hans E. Daniels Named Director of Swiss Pines | Carl Shindle Begins Work

    In 1962 Charles Mohr concludes his time as director and is replaced by Holland native Hans E. Daniels. Daniels proves to be a knowledgeable horticulturist, educator, and presenter, making a name for himself in the flower/garden show circuit. That same year Carl Shindle begins work as a caretaker and quickly becomes one of the most consistent and reliable entities responsible for the gardens continued development.

    Source: Battle Creek Inquirer

    Image reproduced for educational purposes

  • 1963 Arnold Bartschi Purchases the Charlestown Mill

    Arnold Bartschi purchases the Charlestown Mill, originally used for textiles and later for grist and cider, as part of his efforts to preserve historic buildings in the area and potentially save the whole mill village. The mill is located very close to the core Swiss Pines property.

  • 1966 Katsuo Saito Visits the U.S. and Consults with Bartschi

    In an effort to increase the legitimacy of his gardens, Arnold Bartschi consults with Katsuo Saito during a visit to America. Saito agrees to help plan some expansions, including tea houses, pavilions, and stepping stone paths. Saito is one of the most renowned garden artists of his day and his involvement is considered a victory for Bartschi.

    Saito would visit again in 1969 to help put some of his ideas into place.

    Elsewhere, Hiroshi Makita visits the United States for the first time on business.

    Source: Architectural Digest

  • 1967 French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust is Formed

    “French & Pickering works collaboratively with individual landowners, local and state government, and other conservation organizations to ensure the preservation of the French and Pickering Creeks watersheds, which contain some of the most scenic lands in Pennsylvania. Founded by Sam and Eleanor Morris in 1967.”

    The Morris family becomes a close ally and collaborator with Arnold Bartschi.

    Source: https://frenchandpickering.org/conservation/

  • 1967 Charles Herbert’s Rhododendron Society | The Kimmages and Christman Act As Caretakers

    Pennsylvania’s reputation as a destination for Rhododendron breeding and presentation continues to expand as Charles Herbert helps open a Valley Forge chapter. This would be instrumental in the continued diversification of Swiss Pines, leading the grounds to become a renowned destination for Rhododendron display.

    Meanwhile, Walter and Anna Kimmage act as caretakers for the manor house. A gentleman named Christman is utilized as a general handyman for upkeep and maintenance.

    Source: http://rhodyman.net/VFARSHistory.pdf

    Image reproduced for educational purposes.

  • 1967 Arnold Bartschi Establishes The Bartschi Library and Cultural Museum

    Arnold Bartschi spreads his philanthropic ways back to his home country of Switzerland. He donates his ancestral family home to the town of Dulliken, Solothurn along with $1 million dollars in order to form The Bartschi Children’s Library and Cultural Museum there.

    Source: West Chester Daily Local News, Solothurner Zeitung

  • 1969 Arnold Bartschi Sells J. Edward Shoe Company for $5 Million

    1969 is a landmark year for Bartschi as he successfully sells his shoe empire to Belmont Industries Inc. for $5 million (although Bartschi states it was more like $3.5 after dealing with lawyers/taxes/expenditures). This windfall helps fund Bartschi’s lofty vision for the future.

    Source: Delaware County Times

  • 1970 Hiroshi Makita Joins Swiss Pines | Anna Croyle Acts as Manager

    When Arnold Bartschi met Hiroshi Makita, Makita was not withholding of his critiques of Swiss Pines. Seeing it from a deeper philosophical perspective, and aware of the intricacies and subtle rules of design, Makita was better able to interpret the plans provided by Katsuo Saito. Bartschi decided to hire the man and utilize his unique skills to achieve superior results. Makita continued on as the chief director and artistic visionary of the grounds until 1981 when he moved on to other projects throughout the United States.

    Meanwhile, Anna Croyle acts as manager of the office and gift shop.

    Source: Architectural Digest, Photo Property of Hilary Jay

  • 1972 Arnold Bartschi Meets Henriette Bumeder

    Henriette Bumeder is working in a photography shop in Ardmore when she meets Arnold Bartschi. After a brief courtship Bumeder decides to move into a home on Swiss Pines property.

    Source: West Chester Daily Local News

  • 1974 Great Valley Nature Center is Formed

    Arnold Bartschi collaborates with the French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust in order to establish the Great Valley Nature Center. Bartschi contributes 10 acres and $50,000 to initiate the project. Eleanor and Clarkson Wentz are instrumental in the operation of the center and bring on John Christie to act as director.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1978 Charlestown Mill is Placed Under Protective Easement

    Arnold Bartschi collaborates with The French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust to place the Charlestown Mill under protective easement. The Charlestown Village National Historic Trust District is established.

    Source: http://www.charlestown.pa.us/historical_mill.aspx

  • 1981 Hiroshi Makita Leaves Swiss Pines

    Makita goes on to work on other Japanese garden projects, including Dans La Foret, Welcome Farms, Haverford College, and a garden for Jerry Cash, the ex-CEO of Quest Resource Corp in Oklahoma City.

    Source: Hilary Jay

  • 1982 Glenn Dale Azalea Memorial Garden is Established

    Glenn Dale Azalea Memorial Garden is established by the Valley Forge and Philadelphia Chapters of the American Rhododendron Society and dedicated to the memory of Charles Herbert at Swiss Pines. Herbert had passed away in 1978 and was a close friend of Swiss Pines.

    Integral in the development of this garden is Clarence and Evelyn Rahn, Bill Steele, and Lloyd Partain.

    Source: http://valleyforgears.org/members.html

  • 1983 Scott Traveline Joins as Assistant Gardener

    Local resident Scott Traveline joins to assist in the upkeep of the gardens. Traveline would stay on until 1985.

    Source: Scott Traveline

  • 1983 Arnold Bartschi Loses His Swiss-Inspired Home to Fire

    On July 23rd, 1983 a fire ignites in Arnold Bartschi’s home. The building, located on Swiss Pines grounds, is inspired by the architecture of his home in Swizterland. Due to the remoteness of the building fire fighters have a difficult time quelling the flames and have to rely on tanker trucks and a nearby swimming pool. The building and its contents are fully lost.

  • 1985 Eric Sauer Joins as Assistant Gardener | Claudia Morris Provides Support

    Eric Sauer fills a role for assistant gardener, staying on until 1986. He works with Claudia Morris, a skilled horticulturalist and caretaker of the gardens.

    Image property of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Reproduced for educational purposes.

  • 1986 Eva Cohen Passes Away

    On November 4th, 1986 Eva Cohen passes away. She leaves her personal wealth and property to Arnold Bartschi.

    Source: Eva Cohen last will and testament

  • 1987 Bartschi Parcels Off His Land

    Arnold Bartschi meets with Eleanor Morris and signs control of a 52 acre tract next to Swiss pines over to the French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust. Shortly after he reads the papers again and decides he dislikes the agreement but can’t reverse it.

    Previously he had sold 270 acres and placed 180 acres into The Bartschi Foundation. At this juncture he decides to place his last 70 acres into the Foundation.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1989 Legal Dispute Over Baughman Farms

    Arnold Bartschi and Henriette Bumeder get into a legal dispute with Eleanor and Samuel Morris regarding the Baughman Farm property. The Naylors and Andersens are involved as potential buyers of the property. Eventually the Naylors are permitted to buy the property and the Andersens secure the land across the street.

    Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 1989 Roberta Porrini and Judy Elmer Join Swiss Pines as Gardeners

    Both Porrini and Elmer were employees of the Great Valley Nature Center but decided to approach Henriette Bumeder about positions as Swiss Pines. They were accepted. Roberta had one of the longest running stints as a gardener at the grounds, employed 1989-1995. She came back temporarily in 2005-2006 at the request of Henriette to attempt some garden repair and recovery but the relationship was not agreeable long-term.


    Ginnie Moriarity and Judy Burch were also employed by the gardens in the 90s but details remain scarce about them.

  • 1996 Arnold Bartschi Passes Away

    In 1996 Bartschi passes away and bequeaths The Bartschi Foundation to Henriette Bumeder. Although a lover of the gardens, Henriette is not fully suited to the rigors and demand of upkeeping such an intricate property with so many buildings and acreage. Over time she retreats more and more into seclusion, keeping only her closest friends and confidants in her life. Carl Shindle stays on to do basic property maintenance.

    Source: https://www.ancientfaces.com/person/arnold-bartschi-birth-1903-death-1996/23341149

  • 2002 Joanna Reed Passes Away

    Joanna Reed is instrumental in the development and upkeep of the herb gardens within Swiss Pines. She has a lasting impact in the Pennsylvania gardening community and is missed upon her passing on October 21, 2002.

    Source: http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?95,263509

    Image reproduced from “Earth On Her Hands” for educational purposes. All rights remain with the original owner.

  • 2002 Henriette Bumeder Relinquishes Charlestown Mill to the Township

    The Charlestown Mill is in a state of decay and will likely be demolished. To avoid this fate, Charlestown Township steps in and purchases the property from Henriette Bumeder. The Township then organizes funds for the restoration of the site.

    Source: http://www.charlestown.pa.us/historical_mill.aspx

  • 2006 Henriette Bumeder Experiences Vandalism on Her Property

    Henriette Bumeder experiences vandalism on her property, including damage to her street sign and mailboxes and being tailed into Phoenixville and being told “I’m going to take everything you have.”Kevin R. Kuhn of Charlestown Township board of supervisors helps set up a tipline to stem the tide of intrusions.

    Visitation times and options continue to dwindle. The grounds and buildings continue to deteriorate with minimal intervention.

    Source: Phoenixville News

  • 2015 Hiroshi Makita Passes Away

    Hiroshi Makita passes away after continuing to make an impact on Japanese gardening in the United States.

  • 2016 Carl Shindle Passes Away

    After serving an extensive tenure at Swiss Pines, Carl Shindle passes away on June 2, 2016.

  • 2018 Henriette Bumeder Passes Away | Kim and Bill Coyle Inherit Bartschi Foundation

    Henriette passes away on June 28, 2018. Her service is kept private to friends and family.

    Longtime friends and supporters of Henriette, Bill and Kim Coyle, are bequeathed the foundation and property.

    Source: https://www.gatchafuneral.com/obituary/Henriette-Bumeder

    Image property of The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • 2019 Swiss Pines Property Recovery Work Begins

    Kim and Bill Coyle begin collaboration with Matthew Apsokardu to establish a long-term recovery plan for Swiss Pines and establish the Sanrin Cultural Arts Center in order to create a publicly accessible and sustainable model for growth.

  • 2020 Bartschi’s Library and Museum Heads Toward Demolition

    On september 9th, 2020 it is reported that plans to demolish The Bartschi Children’s Library and Cultural Museum in Dulliken, Solothurn are approved by the local community.

    Source: Solothurner Zeitung

  • 11/2023 Charlestown Township Acquires Swiss Pines

    Due to legal and organizational concerns, Bill and Kim Coyle relinquish ownership of the property to Charlestown Township. Operations and recovery efforts are transferred to the township. Discussions of future goals for the property are kept within the township and are pending community meetings.