Message from the Executive Director
Hello, and welcome to the spirit of Poplar Grove,
I spent youthful summers along the Intracoastal Waterway between Hampstead and Wrightsville Beach, and when I wasn’t on a boat with a few teenage boys, making waves along the tides of the Atlantic, I was working here at Poplar Grove. I spent my 7th grade summer (1981) refilling water and ice tea glasses in the former Tea Room, once located in the basement floor of the Manor House.
The Tea Room was so popular with local families that its basement rooms expanded into the upstairs, including all four rooms of the parlors, dining room and morning room. On Sundays after church, a line waited outside for a table on the main floor. My father, Forrest R. Lewis, loved the fried chicken plate and homemade centuries old Plantation Cake with fresh sliced peaches.
As a restaurant, the Manor House was no longer suitable for tours or a reflection of how members of the Foy family once raised their children, celebrated holidays, or discussed the weather and crop yields with neighboring families, therefore, the restaurant was moved to the southeastern corner of Scotts Hill Loop Road in 1993. The parlors were emptied of restaurant tables and chairs, and the carpet (!) was pulled up to reveal the former splendor of the oak floors.
Poplar Grove has been open for tours since 1980, and in these subsequent decades, the neighborhood spirit of Scotts Hill has changed little. Foy family descendants live close by, the Wesleyan Methodist Church rings its bells on Sundays, and you can still hear the cicadas and bullfrogs on a lush wet summer evening; however, Highway 17 and the I-140 bypass has changed the landscape of the former New Bern-Wilmington plank road forever.
After spending most of my adult life in other parts of the country, I return to Scotts Hill and Poplar Grove Plantation committed to the legacy that is good citizenship, hard work, meaningful dialogue, and more importantly, on a mission to restore Poplar Grove to its former glory in honor of conservation, education and preservation, and in the honor of my family, and yours.
The Manor House, its outbuildings and its grounds, have suffered like all historic homes open for daily tours, year after year, decade after decade. (Please reference our 2014 Attendance FAQ Sheet). The shutters were falling apart slate by slate, the front porch and double piazzas on the back of the home were ill-supported from former repairs and replacements due to hurricane damage typical of this region. Extensive plaster cracking spider-webbed the ceiling and down the walls of all three floors of the Manor House. The low-hipped metal roof, not replaced since the 1970s, was causing water damage along the interior walls, windows, and chimney faces.
The popularity of the Abbey Nature Preserve has increased traffic upon the grounds, and the nature trails, exponentially. It is important to note that neither of these two properties (independently owned and operated) are supported by county, state or federal dollars. The renovations to the Manor House and grounds are solely dependent upon revenue generated by daily tours, school programs, annual events, facility rentals, and donations.
Poplar Grove Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 Public Charity, committed to conservation, education, and preservation. We have taken the necessary and crucial steps to address the critical conditions of the Manor House, outbuildings and grounds, so that future generations will have not only a green space to enjoy but have a place in which to reflect upon the spirit of the lower Cape Fear, from the early days of Colonial settlement to conserving our coastal plains for the 21st century.
Consider becoming a member and proud supporter of Poplar Grove Plantation and the Scotts Hill community in honor of past, present and future generations, and so that we remain relevant, self-sustaining and in partnership with other local farms and communities.
Welcome to Poplar Grove, and please pardon our dust!
Caroline C. Lewis, Executive Director