Poplar Hill Mansion has the go ahead to reopen!!! Starting June 21st at 1:00, we will be resuming our normal hours open for tours. To meet safety guidelines from the CDC and the State of Maryland, there will be some adjustments. No more than 10 guests at a time inside the Mansion for now. Guests will enter the front door and exit through the rear door. Face coverings must be worn at all times while inside the Mansion. Social distancing will also be in effect inside with six feet between guests and docents. Also, no seating inside the house for now. Staff will sanitize surfaces between tours. While we will have our open house hours on Sundays, appointments are highly recommended. We know that all these measures might take some getting used to, but we want our guests and staff to remain safe. We will keep everyone posted on updates.
It is with a heavy heart that we have to cancel the PHM Festival for June 20, 2020, as well as other upcoming events for the forseeable future. This decision was not made lightly, but given the current situation regarding COVID-19 and the uncertainty for how long social distancing protocals currently in place will last, under guidance from the City of Salisbury, we have to think about the safety of guests, staff, volunteers, vendors, and other participants. It will not be rescheduled for this year, rather we look forward to seeing you all next year on June 19, 2021 when we will all be able to gather safely and celebrate the history, heritage, and resiliance of Salisbury. Thank you all, and we hope you and all your loved ones stay safe during this time.
Poplar Hill Mansion is committed to helping keep our community safe and healthy. In response to the COVID-19 situation, and under the guidance of the City of Salisbury, we have made the difficult decision to close through the end of the March. This means that all events through this period, including our St. Paddy’s Party and Spring Tea, have been cancelled and the Mansion will be closed on Sundays for tours for the next few weeks. As of right now, events scheduled beyond the end of the March, such as our Derby Day Tea (May 7) and our Annual Festival (June 20) are still moving forward and happening as scheduled.
The health of our guests and staff are a top priority and we want to be sure everyone remains safe and healthy.
We will continue to monitor this developing situation. Please check our website, www.poplarhillmansion.org, and Facebook page for updates.
Thank you for your understanding and continuing support of Poplar Hill Mansion.
The year 2020 marks a major anniversary for PHM as we celebrate the 225th Anniversary of the foundation being laid in 1795*. Levin Handy, a distant cousin of the Handy family of Pemberton, bought Pemberton’s Good Will (what would later be nicknamed Poplar Hill Mansion). He started to farm the land and also began construction on an ambitious house. The house he planned was a four and a half story structure. It was designed in the style of a New England Federal period house. The distinguishing feature between homes of New England and the homes of the same style in the Mid-Atlantic is the construction material. The Mid-Atlantic is known for their homes being built of bricks, while New England has homes made of wood. Why did Handy choose the New England style? Handy is from Rhode Island and decided to build in the style known and familiar to him. More than likely, Handy and his wife had a small cabin like structure on the property while the main farm house was being constructed (although, no evidence of such a structure has been found). In 1795, the brick foundation of the house was laid and construction began. It would take ten years to construct the house. During that time, Handy would go bankrupt and a warrant would be issued by the Worcester County Sherriff for the seizure of the property. Shortly after, Hany died and his widow sold off all the property, including the unfinished house, in order to repay all the debt Handy had accumulated. Levin Handy never got to live in the house he began, but it survives as Salisbury’s oldest house.
*Stayed tuned this year for a special commemorative event!
Congratulations to our new Board Chair, David Scheid! David was unanimously voted in by the Board to be the new Chair taking over for Ginny Hussey as her two year tenure as Chair comes to an end. David joined the Board in 2018 and became the Garden Chair due to his extensive background and expertise in horticulture and museums. We know David will do a great job in his new capacity as Chair (don’t worry, he is still in charge of the grounds and gardens too!). Ginny remains a Board member and continues as the Grants Chair and her service on the Hospitality Committee.
We’ve had some strong storms come through Salisbury this year, especially on the night of July 11. This has caused one of the locust trees in the back yard to come down. It simply fell over, taking up the roots with it. Fortunately, it fell directly into the parking lot, away from the house and caused no damage, also missing the fence and the curator’s vehicle. It fell with such force, that it shook the entire house. We were lucky. Our Garden Chair and Horticulturist, David Scheid, estimated it was about 140 years old based on the rings. That is old, but not as old as the house. It would have been planted during the Victorian period of the Mansion, probably by the Waller family who owned the house from 1881-1945. In, fact there are no trees that are original to the property, as there probably were not many ornamental trees on the property. That was common during the Federal Period; yards and lawns, as we know them, are much more of a Victorian tradition. The City of Salisbury Field Operations Division came out the very next morning to assess the damage. They started immediately cleaning up and removing the fallen tree, so that mid afternoon there was no sign that a tree had ever actually been there (save the large hole left behind). We have already been asked if we are going to replace the tree and that decision will be made by the Garden Chair in conjunction with the Maryland Historical Trust. Since we are an easement property and our easement extends into the grounds, we have to make sure we follow the guidelines set forth under our easement. Thank you agin to the City of Salisbury for being so quick in your response and also thank you to Tom Stevenson for checking on the safety of our Curator almost right after the tree fell and to Mike Konipick for clearing out some of the debris to make it possible for the Curator to remove her vehicle in case of an emergency.
After extensive scrape testing done in the second floor Nursery, we were able to determine what the true closest original historic paint colors were from 1805. As you may recall, the Nursery was repainted a few years ago after plaster repairs had to be made, but the colors painted at that time, were not the actual historic colors. At that time, a guesstimate was made based on a paint chip found during the plaster reapir. It was assumed to be the same golden ocre color as in the first floor main dining room and a trim color was was chosen by the Board at that time to compliment the bright yellow, based on a color at Monticello. Working with historians and museum professionals, the process of scrape testing was done throughout the room. We were then able to work with Benjamin Moore who carries a line of historic colors and matched the colors. The walls are Concord Ivory, the ceiling is Monteray White, the main trim is Cushing Green, and the baseboard is Tavern Gray. We have also rearranged the room to be more conducive to a palce where children would have lived, including moving the furniture and adding toys, games, learning material, and samplers from the early 1800s. Thank you to the City of Salisbury for making this project possible and a big thank you to Paint Tech and Ben Jorden for doing such a great job!
We want to thank EVERYONE who came out to the Award-Winning Second Annual Poplar Hill Mansion Festival held June 15! The weather could not have been more perfect for the day. The festival included some of the favorites from last year such as, The Friends of Maryland’s War of 1812, Chesapeake Independent Blues re-enactors, the Royal Marines, interpreting the British side of the War of 1812, the Dover Country Dancers, Canzona Diversa, live sheep from the Look Pretty, Play Dirty Mobile Petting Farm, and the Wicomico County 4-H, once again doing archery demonstrations. We also welcomed back many of our vendors and had some new vendors, such as Sandyhook Art Glass Studios, Crescent Moon Jewelry, and Pedestal Plates by Susan Peacock. Our kid’s activities tent and spinning demonstrations were big hits with children. Once again, we’d also like to thank Judge Robin Roberts for presiding over our Locked in the Stocks “court.”
We’d also like to give a great big thank you to all our sponsors and those who supported the Festival with donations and financial contributions:
The City of Salisbury, Robinson’s Printing, Rise Up Coffee, Parties Etc., Farmers & Planters, Avery Hall Insurance, Weisner Real Estate, The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, The Ward Museum
We could not have done the Festival without all of you! To see more pictures of this year’s Festival, please visit our website or Facebook page. Be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s Festival on June 20, 2020.
The Friends of Poplar Hill Mansion are proud, grateful, and honored to announce that we have been awarded the Lower Eastern Shore Heritage Council’s 2019 Best New Heritage Initiative Award for the Poplar Hill Mansion Festival: Celebrating Over 200 Years of Salisbury History! As you may recall, last year we received the 2018 Best Heritage Interpretation Award for the Dr. Huston Surgery Room Exhibit from LESHC. We once again received multiple nominations for the award. Thank you to everyone who made it possible, including Sarah Meyers, our Curator, who helped plan and execute the Festival; the entire Board of Directors, especially Ginny Hussey, the Chair of the Board, Jeanne Mears, the Chair of the Festival Committee, who helped sign off on grants to help support the festival and Sharon Murphy, Treasurer, who organized the Locked in the Stocks event; all the volunteers who worked during the festival; all the participants and vendors; the City of Salisbury for all their assistance; LESHC and SWAC for their support of local heritage and arts; and most especially all of you who came out to the Festival to show your support and enthusiasm for PHM programming.
After almost a year of planning and work, we are happy to announce that our kitchen has been fully remodeled and is up and running again. We have updated the kitchen to an official Special Events kitchen. We’ve added a double oven, new cooktop with vent hood, new larger refrigerator, a commercial dishwasher capable of doing a load of dishes in 120 seconds (you read that right, a two-minute cycle), added counterspace, and a new handwashing sink. The whole kitchen has also received a fresh coat of white cabinet paint to make it easier to clean and resistant to moisture. What does all that mean for events here at PHM? Well, it means that we will be able to host events, such as our teas, more efficiently and that our private rentals will have more amenities and be able to operate better out of our kitchen. Thank you to Diane Waller with the Wicomico County Health Department for your guidance on this project and all your patience as we navigated through the regulations. Also, Frank Ennis with the City of Salisbury for your assistance with the review of the plans and guidelines. We’d like to thank our contractor, Joe Magoon for all his work and special thanks to the carpenter/cabinet specialist Hunter Davis. An interesting side note is that Hunter told us he worked on the Mansion in the 1970s when the City first acquired the property and updated and did some construction. Thank you, Alan McLeod, who helped with the plumbing and installed the new sink. We would also like to thank the City of Salisbury for all of their assistance and partial funding of this project.