Some months ago I visited Hillwood Museum, a treasure of art, history and architecture in northwest DC. With a footprint larger than the White House, Hillwood is a gorgeous example of a time not that long ago – it’s somewhat a modern version of Downton Abbey. Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased the estate in 1955 and in 1977 it was opened to the public. Born in 1887 as the only child of Ella Merriweather Post and Charles William (CW) Post (the founder of the Post cereal company), she became at 27 the owner of the company that would later be known as General Foods Corporation. At the time at which her parents died which was in the 1910s, the company was valued at $20 million. She spent spring and fall at Hillwood while her winters were in Palm Springs (Mar-A-Lago) – which is now owned by Donald Trump and her summers in the Adirondacks. Join me on a quick tour now and visit more extensively when you get an opportunity!
Just a small selection of the orchids that were lovingly cared for in the greenhouses.
Since my visit was in the beginning of Spring, the gardens were in the midst of getting ready for all of the blooms. With 13 acres of formal gardens, you’ll find a floral array to entice you to explore no matter the season.
On the property, you’ll also encounter the Dacha, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s version of a Russian country house. This structure houses whatever is the current exhibit and it’s one of the few places where you aren’t allowed to take photos inside. At the time, the Dacha housed an icons exhibition. In the 1930s Marjorie journeyed with her 3rd husband, Ambassador Joseph E. Davies to the Soviet Union where he was ambassador and discovered that her taste for imperial Russian artistry were in align with her passion for collecting exquisite objects.
One of my favorite “outer rooms” of the gardens is the Japanese Style Garden. I remember that I was in need of reflection and exploring Hillwood was a nice way to find some tranquility without having to venture out of the city.
Marjorie Post’s closest friends created the Friendship Walk as a celebration of her 70th birthday and her achievements as a philanthropist. You can also view the French Parterre and imagine yourself sipping champagne at one of the whimsical garden tables.
The interior of Hillwood is nothing short of amazing. The number of French porcelain is astounding! So many pieces to ogle and admire for all of its intricacies. You can learn more about the collection here. If you prefer, you can also take a look at the Russian collection which is the most comprehensive collection of imperial art outside of Russia. There’s a room dedicated to Russian porcelain and it is truly spectacular. Not just for the displays but also the room itself. You can learn more about it here.
One of the most popular collections displayed at Hillwood contains nearly 90 Fabergé eggs. Breathtaking to think the amount of time spent to create each one!
There are a number of other rooms you can explore on the first floor. Here you’ve got the French drawing room with its amazing tapestries and decor.
The very well appointed dining room and the additional extension for the dining table.
You’ve got the sun filled breakfast nook with its gorgeous china.
For me this is where the magic happens! Imagine hosting all of those parties and all the people you need to create the food and to provide service to all of the guests. Hereis where the butler would work in the pantry.
I hope you enjoyed the quick tour. I could spend many more hours meandering around the house and the gardens. They’re always doing something fun – most recently they invited Members of Hillwood to bring their pups to the estate! What was your favorite?
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Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
4155 Linnean Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008