But in fact, the farm that is Poplar Grove has been in constant flux throughout the past 340 years. Its name has changed; its ownership has passed through many hands; its boundaries have shifted repeatedly, growing and shrinking, breaking apart and coming together again. Old proprietors have gone and new ones have intermarried with other families, split the estate among heirs, sold off land and then reacquired it.
Like the manor house itself – a fabulous hodgepodge of architectural tastes spanning three centuries – Poplar Grove embodies the dynamic change and constantly renewed ambition that are America’s characteristic heritage. And it has always been tied in many ways to the world beyond, even far beyond. Those who have lived there have had roles to play in many important chapters of the country’s history: the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the debate over slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the Gold Rush, the Civil War, the rise of the United States as a global economic power. Some family members stuck close to the ancestral soil; others ventured thousands of miles from home. And while a few succeeded brilliantly in their ambitions, others did their best but failed.