Tulip poplar tree at Grafton’s Houlden Farm has a long and storied history


Tulip poplar tree at Grafton’s Houlden Farm has a long and storied history
The tulip poplar tree at Houlden Farm in Grafton is estimated to be up to 200 years old and was inspired by a similar one planted by George Washington at his farm Mount Vernon in Virginia.
(Photo/Nancy Therrien)

GRAFTON – Many things attract people to local farms, from pumpkins to carve to freshly grown local foods. In Grafton, residents have farms bustling with activity, even to this day. 

While one can visit farms for their promise of fresh foods and family fun activities, would you ever consider visiting a farm to see a tree? 

At Houlden Farm, there’s a tree that has ties to the first president and the Revolutionary War. 

An old newspaper article farmer Ruth Houlden shared with the Grafton Historical Society detailed the patriotic symbolism behind the great general’s beloved tulip poplar tree. 

It’s believed that former owners of the farm, the Gouldings, replicated a tulip poplar tree planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon in Virginia in 1785. According to the former president’s diary, the tulip poplar tree was planted at Mount Vernon in the midst of the Revolutionary War, near the time when the Declaration of Independence was contemplated and ultimately signed.

The Revolutionary War would guarantee the independence to the American people from Great Britain, and the Declaration of Independence served as a proclamation to the world that America became a new country. George Washington likely viewed the tulip poplar tree as growing with the very country he loved and served. 

At Houlden Farm, visitors will find the massive tree growing just across the street. It is most likely at least 150 to 200 years old, with a circumference of 21 feet around. 

Specifically, it was Ephraim Goulding who decided to plant the tree all of those years ago. The Gouldings appreciated this symbol of freedom, having also served in the military.  

As we reflect on the past, we have to admire those who continue on with traditions such as planting a symbolic tree after a historic event, or continuing a long-lost family trade, such as farming. Make sure you visit the majestic tulip poplar tree at Houlden Farm and enjoy your local farms as often as you can.