When in Washington, DC a couple weeks ago I was faced with the decision: museum or mansion?
Hmm... I love both, but mansion with gardens will win out (almost) every time. Hillwood, Marjorie Merriweather Post's home about 3 miles from Dupont Circle is a must see!
Heiress, businesswoman, diplomat, philanthropist, and collector, MMP at 27 became the sole heir of the Post Cereal Company fortune. She moved into Hillwood in the mid 50's. The 25 acre estate was to be a place where she could showcase her growing collections for friends, charities, and organizations. The interior design firm French and Co. and McMillian Inc. remodeled and enlarged the home.
In the 30's MMP lived in Russia with her 3rd husband. She became passionate about the Russian Imperial arts. Her collecting began in Moscow, but lasted throughout her life. It grew into one of the finest collections of Russian art as well as French decorative art in the world.
The grand entrance is positively regal. A czar would feel comfortable here!
This passion for the arts was formed in Manhattan in the early 1920's as she was moving in the powerful circles of prominent businesspeople and art collectors. "Once the desire is there and the seeds of the thrill of the search are sown the collector is on his way," she said. MMP had an innate style and deep appreciation for beauty.
Hillwood was designed to be used as a museum as well as a home. There are so many magnificent things to look at, and MMP wanted to share everything well beyond her life.
There are several Faberge eggs and thousands of small precious objects in the Icon Room.
The Chalice for the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, 1791. Empress Catherine the Great had it made for the newly constructed cathedral. It is one of the most important icons in the Liturgical room.
There's also a room dedicated to Porcelain
The music room or home theatre, one of the first, was lined with lilac velvet walls, and throughout Hillwood the attention to detail did not go unnoticed.
the placement of furniture was taken very seriously
Some of Marjorie's favorite jewels are housed there as well. I love that the emerald pieces were displayed in the bedroom while outside in the hall hangs this painting of her wearing it with her daughter, Dina Merrill.
This little silver and brass sign hangs on each guest room door. Open it to tell others, "Do not disturb ~ resting"
The outside garden design functions as an extension of the house. Marjorie and her team created outdoor rooms, each having their own distinct character. From every window there was something magnificent to see.
A greenhouse and cutting garden supply the home with flowers to this day
There's even a little pet cemetery.
Perry Wheeler, known for the White House rose garden, adapted Hillwood's rose garden for Marjorie.
This would become her final resting place beneath the obelisk, amongst all that she loved.
If you love fabulous homes, decorative arts, and lush gardens~put Hillwood on your "must see" list of things to do while in Washington.
Don't even get me started on the Japanese garden. That's a whole other post. There were outer buildings, each with their own distinct personality. The exhibition by Isabelle de Borchgrave that I raved about here was in the Adorandack building and throughout.
ph: courtesy of Hillwood and CLI