Casa Popenoe was built in the 18th century on top of preexisting colonial structures—one building from the 1600s, another from the 1500s. Wilson and Dorothy Popenoe bought the property in 1930 and got to work restoring it. They renovated the house and filled it with period furniture. After Dorothy died, Wilson and his second wife, Helen, continued collecting artifacts and art to reflect the place’s colonial history.
But the Popenoes did more than just preserve this small patch of history—they also made massive contributions to the U.S. avocado industry. Wilson Popenoe is responsible for bringing the first avocados into California. He hopped aboard his trusty steeds and embarked on numerous exploration missions throughout Central America in search of new fruit specimens to ship stateside. He eventually became the chief agronomist for the United Fruit Company.
The Popenoe family donated the house to the Universidad Francisco in Marroquín in 2007. Visitors can arrange group tours to view the colonial artifacts and learn more about Wilson Popenoe’s achievements as a botanist.