Eleanor Reed Butler Waterfall
One of the loveliest original features in Glen Providence Park might go unnoticed, if it were not still marked with a dedication plaque. On the west side of the pond, near the island, is the now-dry Eleanor Reed Butler Waterfall. The stones where water once flowed are now covered in enchanting ferns, and the pool of water that was at the base of the waterfall is dry.
This waterfall was one of the first features installed in the park in 1936- amazingly, it was fed through a pipe leading from the drinking spring 500′ upstream by Broomall’s Dam, which is marked on the 1945 Plan of Glen Providence Park (shown below). The waterfall and pipe feeding it are described in two early Chester Times articles about the park:
– August 8, 1936: “… This water has been piped from that spring nearly five hundred feet down the valley, feeding the lake [the park’s pond] and providing drinking water.”
– February 8, 1937: “A second supply [of water to the pond] is from the larger spring above referred to [the drinking spring near the dam], the water being carried through about 500 feet of pipe and liberated over an artificial cascade into the lake, making a very attractive feature.”
As with any man-made features, the waterfall required maintenance over time. The July 17, 1948 Chester Times describes how the Providence Garden Club was working to improve the waterfall in memory of Eleanor Reed Butler, who with her husband had donated the majority of the land for the park as a Bird Sanctuary and Arboretum. Eleanor Butler also named Glen Providence Park, “because of its glen-like formation and as it is located in the heart of the Providence townships.”
In the Media Historic Archives, we found a photo of the Eleanor Reed Butler Waterfall still functioning in 1975. It is believed that the pipe feeding the waterfall has since caved in. We have hopes that the waterfall can be rehabilitated- as part of public participation in Delaware County’s Open Space Plan, Friends of Glen Providence Park made the suggestion to restore the waterfall, as a re-circulating waterfall pumped from the pond. This would help to aerate the pond, add to the sound of babbling water, and restore this historical park structure. Delaware County is considering this suggestion for Glen Providence Park’s Site Plan that will result from the Open Space Plan process.
The Eleanor Reed Butler Waterfall is a lovely tribute to the woman who gave so much to our community by preserving this land- we hope the waterfall can be lovingly preserved for future generations!
Chester Times articles researched on the Newspaper Archives of Delaware County Library.
If anyone has photographs of the Eleanor Reed Butler Waterfall when it was still functioning, please email us at FriendsoftheGlen[AT]gmail.com! You can click on the 1945 map, 1975 photo, and current photos below….