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“Fascinating Living History”
Review of Casa Popenoe

Casa Popenoe
Ranked #28 of 92 things to do in Antigua
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Casa Popenoe appeals to the inquiring mind. It prompts us to ask questions about ideas, about passion, about commitment; about history, art, science, beauty, austerity, proportion. What role does each play in human development? In the development of civilization?
Reviewed 20 June 2014

In a city noted for its world renown historical restoration and preservation, Casa Popenoe, home for wealthy Antigua citizens for centuries, stands out as a monumental achievement, accomplished by a family whose love of this beautiful colonial mansion is singlehandly responsible for its restored glory.
During the many years my wife Mary and I have been visiting Antigua, the legendary house wasn't open to the public. But today limited tours are conducted by its curator and historian Dr. Alberto Girón and his staff.
His research has revealed that in 1560, a house was built on the land where Casa Popenoe stands today. The present house, which has been extensively remodeled over the years, was constructed in 1650.
Dr. Girón does a remarkable job of avoiding the feel of a museum walk; instead, he creates the ambiance of what it would have been like to have lived in this Colonial life style. You sense the history that has occurred here as you stroll through its spacious rooms with authentic furnishings, beautiful courtyard with a fountain, kitchen garden, stables and service courtyards.
The house was in ruins when Dr. Wilson Popenoe and his wife Dorothy purchased it in 1930 <http://huntbot.andrew.cmu.edu/HIBD/Exhibitions/BotanistsArt/Popenoe.shtml>. They were able to visualize what an architectural jewel it could become again despite its dilapidated condition. The couple spent six years authentically restoring the house to its previous grandeur. Years after Dorothy's death, Dr. Popenoe married Helen, an art historian who acquired many of the home's artifacts now on display.
In 2007, Dr. Marion Popenoe Hatch, an acclaimed international archeologist, as was her mother Dorothy, and her siblings donated the house to Universidad Francisco Marroquín for use as a museum and teaching resource <http://casapopenoe.ufm.edu/>.
Our tour of Casa Popenoe was like a second pilgrimage to the site of an important place Dr. Wilson Popenoe left his mark on. A botanist, agronomist and agricultural explorer, Dr. Popenoe established Lancetilla Botanical Garden and Research Center in Honduras, in 1925 <http://johnsmitchell.blogspot.com/2010/11/lancetilla-botanical-garden-honduras.html>.
As a Senior Master Gardener I was in awe of this remarkable horticultural resource during a year-long trip through all of Central and South America several decades ago. Visiting these two important Popenoe endeavors enhanced my appreciation for his dedication and accomplishments and his remarkable family.
Louis Adamic (1899-1951) describes the essence of Casa Popenoe in hisbook, "The House in Antigua" (1937):
"Casa Popenoe appeals to the inquiring mind. It prompts us to ask questions about ideas, about passion, about commitment, about history, art, science, beauty, austerity, proportion."

VISITOR INFORMATION

Casa Popenoe can only be seen by guided tour; at present, limited to groups of five or more, arranged in advance.
Tour Hours: Monday — Friday 8 am – 4 pm; Saturdays 8 am - 11 am.
To schedule a tour, please send an email to casapopenoe@ufm.edu or call [+502] 2338-7959.
Admission is USD 10 or 80 quetzales per person ($5 or Q40 per University student).

4  Thank GeorgiaGypsyMacon_GA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 May 2014

Amazing value for $10/person! Witty world expert on this house, THE MAN IN CHARGE gives these tours, knows these people, this stuff, these sticks and stones, these paintings, these plants, these birds...ask it and the answer is forthcoming. We requested the tour late one afternoon, and were given a 9AM appointment the next day. This is well worth your time. The house is fantastic, but the insights into the history of Antigua and, more importantly, the on-going process of historical investigation will amaze you. Do it.

1  Thank Juanita44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2014

If you are spending time in Antigua and are interested in its history, this is a must. It was easy to arrange a visit. Working with the email address given to us by the tourist information office, inGuat on Calle 5, within a day, we had arranged to meet Alberto Garin, the director there. He gave us an insightful and fascinating 2-hour tour of this beautiful home and its stunning gardens. This house set the standard for decoration for many of the houses, hotels and restaurants in the city. It's a wonderful insight into the history of Antigua itself.

Thank Penny S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2014

guide books give incorrect info. this site is not open daily. it is now owned by the university. guided tours only one day per week at $10 per person.

1  Thank sabasavta123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 March 2014

While you need to plan a visit since there are no regular hours--it was well worth it. We were fascinated to hear the results of much research on the house. Because the renovation of this house influenced much of other work in Antigua, it is interesting to see what was true to the 1700's and what was a Popenoe innovation. Explanations of the working of the kitchen and plumbing of the period was very interesting. The house has been restored beautifully. Alberto Garin, the curator, is a major asset to Antigua. His research is shedding new light on many structures in Antigua including the Capuchinas in addition to Casa Popenoe.

Thank Shirley H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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