Marjorie Post’s Washington Estate & Gardens: Hillwood
Note to my readers: Even though we are all homebound these days, I hope you will still join me in my quest of experiencing new places and cultures. For today, I planned a post from our recent trip to Washington DC and Hillwood Museum. If you enjoy the content below and are interested in visiting Hillwood yourself, you can explore their collection with Hillwood from Home. You can also watch their featured videos on YouTube. Stay safe, Karen
Anyone who loves museums, mansions, Russian art, French furniture, and/or expansive gardens is in for a real pleasure when they visit Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.
Marjorie Post was the heiress to the Post Cereal fortune. When she was married to E.F. Hutton, they transformed Post into General Foods. A later husband was the Ambassador to Russia during the 1930s and Margorie’s 18 months in that country sparked a love of all Russian art, iconography, porcelain, and artifacts. Hillwood was created when she bought the mansion in 1955, and spent three years remodeling, working with a curator from the beginning. Margorie designed the space to become the museum she envisioned, planning all along to leave her home and 25-acre estate to the state for public access.
I loved seeing the two Fabergé eggs in her collection and the Russian porcelain display. I hope you can get a bit of an idea of the house from the few photos below.
Marjorie’s story is as interesting as the house. And although I’ve been to her Mar-a-Lago home, I still enjoyed learning even more about her life. The hour-long docent-guided tour was delightful and when you are in her bedroom suite, you can see her closets, the safe where she kept her jewels, as well as a rotating display of her gowns and incredible jewelry. The ballroom in the house was set up for movie screenings since her Hollywood connections (her daughter was actress Dina Merrill) facilitated getting first-run films to show her guests.
In the kitchen, you could see stacks of Jell-O molds in the glass-front cabinets, because all of her fabulous dinners included that iconic General Mills “delicacy”. The dumbwaiter in the butler’s pantry was used to bring up china and crystal from her extensive collection stored in the basement.
It wasn’t the optimal time of year for us to tour the gardens, but the greenhouses were filled with blooming orchids. The visitor center had a great gift shop (but the soda vending machines did not work). On the grounds, there is a nice café and we enjoyed a very quick, but tasty, lunch. The location is convenient, adjacent to Rock Creek Park. The estate is hidden with entrance gates tucked off the road. I got our tickets online so we could skip any on-site queue, but it turns out we visited on a quiet weekday.
Next up – as friends and family have, I need to sail on her yacht the Sea Cloud.