The Browns Farm parcel which includes the farmhouse, barn, and meadows were acquired by the Millcreek Township School District in the early 1980s with the intention to build a school. It was ultimately deemed not the ideal location and instead, the district used it for other education and recreation purposes. Browns Farm Barn which sits on the site dates to 1928.
Erie businessman Douglas James donated pastureland, previously owned by the Von Buseck family, to Mercyhurst University in 1993 to create the Jean B. and Douglas James Wildlife Preserve. This 40 acres of land includes frontage to West 38th Street and was a key piece in building a continuous greenway to connect the Nature Center with the Browns Farm parcel. In 1995 two smaller tracts of land along Walnut Creek were donated to Millcreek Township School District for final pieces of land which would become the future Greenway Trail.
In 2001 the nonprofit Asbury Woods Partnership was formed to assist Millcreek Township School District with fundraising projects to support Asbury Woods. The Asbury Woods Partnership led a campaign to raise money for improvements at Asbury Woods, resulting in a $3.8 million campaign that allowed for the renovation and expansion of the Nature Center. The renovated Nature Center opened its doors in 2005, retaining the original cottage look while adding 7,800 square feet of new space that included innovative, sustainable design concepts. The new space included a live animal exhibit area, new classrooms, a gift shop and a vegetative roof. The campaign also included a gift from Rear Admiral Charles A. Curtze (Ret.) and his wife, Louise Vicary Curtze, that funded a pedestrian bridge spanning Walnut Creek, thus completing the Greenway Trail connecting the Browns Farm parcel to the grounds surrounding the Nature Center.
After their successful campaign, the Asbury Woods Partnership entered into an agreement with the Millcreek Township School District in 2009 to provide nature-based programming to the community at Asbury Woods, thus expanding the programming impact beyond school groups.