This magnificent and beautiful home is the only fully-developed Beaux-Arts, classical revival structure in Washington and received its handsome facade earlier than most of the other houses. Unlike most of the other great houses, too, is the fact that the oldest part is the front of the house.
In 1810, Oliver Hillhouse Prince of Connecticut built the front two-story Federal style house on this corner. He was one of the earliest compilers of the laws of Georgia, and Senator, and laid out the city of Macon. He sold the house to Augustus Gibson who sold it to Alexander in 1825. It was Alexander who purchased the old 1785 courthouse and used the timbers to add the two-story, four-room addition at the back of the house. The Popes occupied the house until it was bought in 1873 by William Simpson. Simpson's descendants have occupied the house continuously for 100 years.
Dr. Robert A. Simpson, physician, musician, philantropist, designed and added the hand-chiseled garlands and other ornamentations which delight visitors today. Artisan Frank Chafin executed the fine ornamental details. Dr. Simpson also developed the extensive gardens with the great camelia bushes, tea-olives, sweet shrubs, banana shrubs, and other Southern plantings. The city playground is a protion of these gardens. It was given to the children of Washington by Dr. Simpson.
Dr. Robert Grier Stephens, namesake and nephew of Dr. Simpson, inherited Poplar Corner (named for the great tree in the corner of the yard). He was one of Washington's beloved physicians and historians, and lived to be over 90 years old, and was frequently called for the verification of historical data in his old age. He was the father of Congressman Robert J. Stephens, who is also a historian by avocation.
Poplar Corner still has its gazebo, Victorian well-house, carriage house, etc, typical of ante-bellum living.