Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hillwood Estate

Recently Ward and I got a chance to visit Hillwood Estate and Museum in Washington, DC. The visit had been on our list of things to do for over a year now, and we finally made it.

Hillwood Estate was home to Marjorie Merriweather Post in her later years (1955-1973). Besides living in the mansion, Post used it to display much the art that she collected over the years. She was the richest woman in the United States at one time thanks to owning General Foods. That afforded her enough money to follow her passion of art collection. French and Russian were her favorites. After her death, Hillwood was opened as a museum for the public.

We visited on a warm afternoon, and we weren't the only ones who thought it was a good day to go. It was crowded, but we were able to work our way through the crowds to see what we wanted. Besides the seeing richly furnished bedrooms and kitchens, we saw many built-in display cases scattered throughout the house. These held much of her collection. Porcelain was a favorite of Post, so we saw numerous sets of dishes among other things. The thing that impressed me the most was the opulence of what we saw. Intricate details, fine painting, and gold everywhere. Amazing. It was almost more than my eyes could comprehend.

Next we wandered through the gardens around the house. We visited the greenhouse that was full of orchids. The color, beauty, and variety of them was like the plant version of what we saw inside. Opulent and amazing.  Then we ventured through the rest of the gardens. It was early in the season, so there was very little in bloom. We found a crocus here or a daffodil there. And while I appreciated what I had seen thus far, it was this part of the visit I liked best.

 Here are few pictures from our afternoon.


Adam Bedroom Suite

Russian porcelain and English painted enamels


Path to Japanese Garden

Crocus outside of Dacha


  1. Ooh, I love to do tours like that!!!!! How fun! One of my early dates with my husband was the the Hackley/Hume homes in our town. They are the preserved homes of area lumber barons (late 1800s/early 1900s) and especially in the Hackley home, the woodwork and carvings are so intricate. We have been back several times and have taken the kids and I still find new things to enjoy when we go. Thanks for your virtual tour! :)

    1. Over the years, we have visited a lot of historic houses from many different times. This was one of the richest we had seen, perhaps because of all of the display objects. I think you could visit this house for years and years and still see something new each time.

    2. You would enjoy Greenfield Village (and Henry Ford Museum) in Dearborn, MI. Greenfield Village is a living history museum with several different sections including the Thomas Edison workshops, the McGuffey schoolhouse (from the McGuffey reader), a working railway station, etc. The museum houses (not surprisingly--it is in the Detroit area, after all) cars through the years, airplanes, and many other things. Henry Ford had a fascination with memorabilia so you will find George Washington's camp cot and camping kit there, the limo where Kennedy was shot, the chair in which Lincoln was shot (I think Ford was a bit on the macabre side of things), the Rosa Parks bus ... anyway, over the past 2 summers my sister has taken my kids and I to see them. Last summer we rode in a replica Model T. I like it when I can connect to history in a more personal manner. My kids will probably grow up and tell people "mom dragged us to every historical site imaginable ...". I would happily follow you around to all the historical homes in your area.

    3. I'm gonna have to ask my kids if they think we drug them to every historical site imaginable because we went to a lot of them as well as museums. I never knew that Henry Ford was a collector like that. You're right. I think that I would enjoy Greenfield Village.

  2. Replies
    1. Even when I see it, it's hard for me to imagine anyone living in a place like that.


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