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Welkinweir has followed the example of numerous historic estate house grounds in the greater Philadelphia region that have been transformed from a private residence to public gardens. John and Lydia Morris donated their Chestnut Hill estate to the University of Pennsylvania, and the property became the Morris Arboretum, Tyler Arboretum was the Painter Brothers home and farm, while many DuPont estates have become public gardens – Mt. Cuba, Winterthur, and Longwood.
Located in the upland Piedmont province, an area characterized by rolling hills and fertile soils, Welkinweir lies within a protected enclosed valley, bounded by ridgelines along the north and south sides and somewhat isolated from outside influences. Its relative seclusion provides a haven for people and a protected habitat for wildlife. Everett and Grace Rodebaugh purchased the ca. 1750 and 1830 farmhouse on 162-acres of depleted former farmland in 1935 as a weekend retreat and summer home, where they shaped the landscape: adding a series of ponds in the valley, purchasing the entire stock of nursery that was going out of business to plant on the grounds, and allowing the former fields to return to forest. Making this their permanent home, in 1939 they retained a local architect to remodel and expand the former farmhouse in such a way to as to blend into the surrounding landscape and called the property Welkinweir, from the old English Welkin, the dome of heaven or sky and Weir a body of water, roughly translating to Skywater.