How we came to be

More than 200 years ago, a Pennsylvania German tanner named Daniel Royer bought 150 acres of land along the Antietam Creek. Here he and his family established an industrial farmstead. Many of the original buildings and much of the original landscape remain from Royer’s time.

Today we know the Royer farmstead as Renfrew Museum and Park. In 1990 Renfrew Museum and Park established Renfrew Institute as a separate nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization, and in this historic setting, Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies now offers students of all ages the opportunity to learn about their cultural and natural heritage.

Renfrew Institute was founded primarily to continue the development and funding of school programs started four years earlier by the museum. As interest in the school programs soared, so did the development of additional programs and workshops for adults and older teens. Weekend events and festivals for families were created and summer workshops became part of the Renfrew Institute experience.

Research in cultural history and natural science are ongoing at the Institute. Staff and visiting scholars conduct research to enable the development of interpretive programs and to support historical and environmental restoration projects on the Renfrew Museum and Park property. Studies include research on the American chestnut tree, bluebird nesting practices, native and invasive plant species, Pennsylvania German food culture of the 1800s, water quality in the Antietam Creek, watersheds and wetlands, colonial textiles, and historic buildings.

Renfrew Institute is still evolving—answering the environmental and cultural education needs of an engaged and curious public.

“Renfrew Institute continues to offer quality environmental and cultural programs to the students and adults of Waynesboro. We are lucky to have such a valuable asset to our community.”

Bill & Debbie Pflager, members