While the name Succop Nature Park is relatively new (formerly known as Succop Conservancy until 2014) the land on which ASWP’s newest property sits has a long history in the Butler community.
Succop Nature Park dates back to an Irish immigrant by the name of Mr. John Maharg. Mr. Maharg settled in Penn Township in 1805 when he received a deed for a farm that would encompass the property. The main portion of the house (known as the Marcraig House) was built in 1830, with a barn, summer kitchen and wash house being added in the 1850’s. A bank barn that still stands on the property today was constructed in 1886. John Maharg died in 1871 and the property remained in the Marharg family until 1921.
The home and property were then sold to T.W. Phillips Jr., who was the son of the founder of T.W. Phillips Gas and Oil Company. Phillips son, Thomas W. Jr. purchased the property in the 1921 and quickly expanded upon the home as well as the grounds. Across the street, Mr. Phillips constructed what would be known as “Phillips Hall” while planting a number of trees upon the grounds. In fact Mr. Phillips daughter, Margret Phillips Succop would write about her late father “Throughout his life he continued to turn to trees, finding solace in their endurability. But more, I think, trees taught him the rewarding virtues of patience, perseverance, and fortitude.” Many of the trees found upon the grounds of Succop Nature Park were planted by Mr. Phillips son-in-law, A. Craig Succop.
Shortly after the passing of T.W. Jr., his daughter Margaret and her husband, A. Craig Succop purchased the estate and updated the house with all the modern amenities including indoor plumbing. At this time the estate was a working farm with chickens, cows and horses. After Mr and Mrs. Succop moved into the Marcraig House, the couple continued to invite the public to use the property for picnics—and even to collect fresh eggs from the onsite hens. Following World War II, the Succop’s once again updated the house by adding two more wings on to the original house.
Margaret passed away in 1990 and her husband Craig, passed away in 1996. The Succop’s eldest son Tom and his wife Jo Ann moved back to the family estate shortly after the death of his father. Tom and Jo Ann donated the estate to the Butler County Community College Education Foundation in 2001. The Succop Nature Park was owned, operated and maintained by the foundation until 2011 when Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania assumed control.
Today, the property and its serene environment continue to attract visitors of all ages who seek to connect with birds and nature. It's an environmental education center for the Butler community that reflects Audubon’s connection to nature and the property’s longstanding openness to the public. ASWP is excited to steward this historic property into the future and help create a new generation of memories and history at Succop Nature Park.