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Grove Farm had an inauspicious start. Following the Great Mahele (the Hawaiian land redistribution act that allowed non-natives to purchase royal lands), Warren Goodale became the first owner in 1850. He immediately sold the land to James Marshall for $3,000, who in turn, sold it to Judge Herman Widemann for $8,000 in 1856.
In November of 1864, Hanalei-raised, George Norton Wilcox took over the lease for Grove Farm and quickly became its sole owner. In addition to being an enterprising innovator of plantation sugar culture, Wilcox was also a power in Hawaiian politics, a community leader, and a philanthropist. Under his leadership, Grove Farm came to be synonymous with high quality and positive economic growth on Kaua'i. This reputation has remained true to this day.
Grove Farm flourished under the leadership of George N. Wilcox from 1870 to 1933. Many modernizing changes occurred throughout the plantation, from the construction of an innovative water irrigation system to the creation of new cultivating machinery and planting methods to the use of the first sugar cane seed planter in the State.
In December of 1941, Grove Farm became immersed in the ongoing war effort. Grove Farm dedicated large acreages previously used for sugar to grow food for the local population and the military.
In 1948, Grove Farm purchased the 3,000 acre Koloa Plantation and its sugar mill.
With Wilcox family at the helm, Grove Farm continued to demonstrate the highest regard for Kauai's island community in all facets of economic growth, both in sugar production and in land development.
In continuing with its history of "firsts" Grove Farm was the first to build a hollow tile house on Kauai. Grove Farm would break from the traditional system of housings its workers in rented, plantation houses and pioneered a home ownership program. By 1955, 177 plantation employees owned their own homes.
During the first 100 years of existence, Grove Farm grew to a sugar plantation of approximately 22,000 acres, with about one-half of the area in sugar cane and cattle pasture. In 1974, Grove Farm ceased sugar operations and leased its cane lands to neighboring plantations. The company then diversified into residential, resort, industrial and commercial land development and management and agricultural land licensing.
Grove Farm also provided the island of Kaua'i with a substantial gift in the form of 200 acres of land for a community college. Grove Farm donated 200 acres in Puhi to the University of Hawai'i to build what would eventually become Kaua'i Community College.
In the mid-1990s, sugar cane operations ceased in eastern Kaua'i, after over 125 years of effort. A majority of the former Grove Farm sugar lands were then leased for cattle ranching, tree farming, and the growing of diversified agricultural crops such as corn, bananas and taro.
In December 2000, Grove Farm was purchased by Mr. Stephen M. Case, the co-founder of America Online. Additionally, in July 2001, Mr. Case purchased approximately 18,000 acres of former Lihue Plantation lands in the Lihue/Hanamaulu area.
While Grove Farm is now comprised of lands from three distinct sugar plantations (Grove Farm, Koloa Plantation and Lihue Plantation), its overall landholdings are collectively known as "Grove Farm" and totals approximately 38,000 acres.