Scientist Carl August is feeling claustrophobic living in the city. When he sees an advertisement for ten acres of land and a small cottage located outside Washington, D.C., he decides to view the property. As he drives along Stewart Lane, a narrow gravel road nestled on the perimeter of affluent estates, Carl wonders why the land is priced so reasonably, until he pulls up to a neglected property in complete disarray. He is greeted by Rufus Stewart, a tobacco chewing, heavyset man who asks, "are ya fixin' to buy it?"
Carl soon learns that if he buys the property, he and his wife Mary will become neighbors of the Stewarts-a quirky family who has fallen from wealthy landowners into poverty. Mary convinces Carl to buy. The two soon settle into their new life in the country, oblivious to the many challenges on Stewart Lane.