Blackacre is host to a variety of natural habitats, each with different native plants and wildlife, all visible along our six easy to moderate trails. Some trails cross the wetland streams, and during the rainy season, there is a lovely waterfall along “Waterfall Trail.” Others, such as Upper and Lower Sunset Trails, cross the open fields of pasture where animals once roamed. Each trail takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Appropriate clothing and footwear are a must, as the surfaces are uneven, mown hay is scratchy, and there is abundant poison ivy in some areas! Trail maps are available for download or on-site at the Visitors’ Kiosk. Click to view a Trail Map or Homestead Map.
[To print a map, press CTRL+P in the new map window in your browser (Mac users press COMMAND+P). To download a map and save it to your hard drive, right click the link text and select “Save Target As.”]
Blackacre has several ponds on its grounds: Dragonly Pond, located down the trail behind the barn, is accesible by our new Ronald McDonald House Charities Dock. The pond hosts a plethora of dragonflies, as well as other bugs, frogs, tadpoles, fish, and birds.
Spring House Pond
Also near our historic homestead is the more shaded Spring House Pond, which can be found just below our historic Spring House. Spring House Pond is fed by the underground spring which Moses Tyler unearthed in order to create a cool storage room for perishable goods. Moses’ stream emerges in his cool, windowless Spring House before feeding the man-made pond behind it. Since Moses dug it up in the early 19th century, the Spring House Pond has been the happy home of a number of visible, active little critters, including fish, tadpoles, and frogs. Emilie Smith used to swim here!
Located just across the road from the Presley Tyler 1844 Farmhouse and the Carriage House Complex, Orchard Pond was donated by Stuart Sampson in honor of his late wife, JCPS teacher Donna Sampson. The pond’s waterfall, benches, trees and flowers were constructed in 1996 by the students of Seneca High School’s Urban Agricultural Program, and refurbished in 2012 thanks to a generous donation from Doug Tartar.
The Animals of Blackacre
Although Blackacre isn’t the farm it once was, it’s still home to a few friendly farm creatures– three horses, eight goats, and a few donkeys. We have scheduled feedings every Saturday at 9 AM, May through October, but our animals are always happy to say hello whenever you can drop by!
The Tyler Homestead
The Presley Tyler 1844 Farmhouse was the home of Presley and Jane Tyler. Built in 1844 in a Federal Style design, the house used to lie along a road system connecting all four of the Tyler family farms. The house is open for docent led tours from April to November on Sunday afternoons from 1 – 5 pm, and features a photo exhibit which documents the lives and labors of previous farmers of the homestead.
The Stone Cottage, believed by many to be Moses Tyler’s second house, constructed in 1790. His first home, a temporary log cabin, is no longer standing. This cottage was renovated in the 1900’s and is a private residence. Please do not disturb!
The Smoke House, a replica built in the 1950’s. The original Smoke House was a frame used for smoking meat. Fires were kept going in the building and the smoke preserved the meat hanging from the rafters.
The Spring House, built in 1795. You can see where an underground spring appears before the building and flows under the Spring House into the pond. This cool water kept food preserved during hot summer days.
The Weaving Shed, now a classroom attached to the JCPS teachers’ office. It is believed this building was once a carriage house. We do not have a full history of this structure.
The Appalachian Style Barn, a rare double-crib barn used by the Tyler brothers. Built in 1790, the giant hand hewn boards and the wonderful construction of this old structure are still visible. There is an exhibit of old farm tools along the walls. See if you can guess what they were used for!
Schick Nature Center, Blackacre’s “home base” for environmental education for over 9,000 JCPS and private school students throughout the school year. It is often used for weekend programs and events as well.