The site of the arboretum was once part of a thousand acre land grant sold to John Sharpless by William Penn in 1682. From 1740 until 1882, the grounds were part of an industrial mill complex that produced lumber, grain and textiles among other products. Ridley Creek, which borders the property, was the source of power that drove the local mills. To harness the power of the water, dams were built to divert some of the creek to a water wheel at the mill.
Taylor Arboretum at Widener University was established in 1931 by a Chester lawyer, Joshua C. Taylor (1873-1946), in memory of his wife, Anne Rulon Gray. An early proponent of conservation, Taylor dedicated the Arboretum to promote the “health, enjoyment and education of the public in perpetuity”. It appears that Taylor at one time considered further development of the site but the loss of Anne and the stress that accompanied the Great Depression caused him to reorganize his priorities.
To ensure that his conservation efforts would continue, Joshua Taylor created the Taylor Foundation. Public visitation and development of the grounds began in 1952. Widener University acquired the arboretum in 2016 and operates the property.
Located on 30 acres along Ridley Creek, the arboretum is a sanctuary for plants and animals. It also provides environmental education opportunities, as well as a peaceful setting where visitors can leisurely explore and enjoy nature first-hand.