The Hillwood Estate is Washington D.C.’s Hidden Gem

For the summer of 2019 Washington D.C. is my home. I am living and working in the heart of the capitol of America for just a couple months. My mom was planning on visiting me in Washington D.C. and I wanted to do something special. After seeing most of the popular attractions, I want to make her visit unique.

The Hillwood Estate is defiantly the best choice to make for a girls weekend.The Estate is located in a residential area about thirty minutes outside of the heart of Washington. This hidden gem is a place known to the locals and art-junkies of DC. I heard about this well kept secret through my roommate who met an art expert at the National Gallery of Art.

History behind the mansion 

Purchased in 1955 the Hillwood Estate  is Marjorie Merriweather’s fall and spring residence during the 1990s until her death. Considering Merriweather was one of the wealthiest socialites of her time it is no surprise that much of that wealth and luxury is displayed in her home. Inside the Georgian style mansion owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, there are unique and exquisite displays of Russian and French art. Marjorie always intended for her home to be turned into a museum. Due to her wishes Hillwood Estate has operated as a museum since 1977.

Grand Stairway

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The entryway welcomes and dazzles visitors. A huge portrait of Empress Catherine II, a ruler of Russia from 1762 to 1796, hanging next to the staircase greets the guests as they walk in.  The chancellor above the entrance illuminates the room. The grand entryway is just a small taste of the lavish decor to come.

Elaborate Rooms

The rooms at Hillwood Mansion have flamboyant furnishings and elaborate interiors. Here are what some of the rooms entail. Each of these rooms are accessible with your museum ticket.

The French Drawing Room
This room is where Merriweather hosted receptions and had lavish gatherings. The French drawing room is my favorite room in the house. The space is bright and airy. I wanted to sit down in one of the chairs and enjoy the room. Considering the furniture is antique I am happy I decided against it.

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French drawing room

Pavilion
This room for entertainment purposes is eccentric. I call it the purple room, and if you see the photo below you can see why. The painting is A Boyar Wedding Feast in the Seventeenth Century. IMG_2923.jpg

Pavilion room

Dining Room

Each piece of tableware in the dining room is simply stunning. I could only dream of sitting down and having a fancy meal in Marjorie’s dinning room.

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Dinning room

Second Floor Library
Every mansion has to have a library. I picture this library to be the ideal spot to curl up and read a good novel on a rainy day.

Breakfast Room
Ironically the family never ate breakfast in the breakfast room. It should be renamed the lunch room.

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Ornate table setting in the breakfast room

Adam Bedroom Suite
If you were lucky enough to be a guest at this mansion your stay would have been five star luxury. The rooms decorated to impress to leave guests always wanting to return. 

Icon Room
With over 400 objects this room is worth a pretty penny.

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Icon room

Majorie’s Bedroom
I would always start the day off right if I woke up in Majorie’s pink and gold bedroom. Her closet and all pink bathroom didn’t disappoint either.

Russian Imperial Art from 1800s & 1900s

In Marjorie’s collection there are over 4,000 pieces of Russian tableware. Her love for Russian art came from the time she spent in eighteen months in Soviet Union in the 1930’s. Explore the collection here.

Porcelain & Glass Collections

Hillwood’s collection of porcelain and glass is highly impressive. At Hillwood Marjorie built display shelves for her exquisite collection. You will find her extravagant collections throughout the entire home. Be sure to enter into each room. You won’t want to miss a single object.

French Art of the 1700s

In the French porcelain room the Hillwood collection reflects the 1700s. The French collection is crafted with remarkable attention to detail.

Russian Artifacts

Icons, vestments, alter cloths,chalices, and other precious objects. Among these objects is the nuptial crown. This Russian artifact was worn by Russian grand duchesses at their weddings. Beautifully crafted in 1767, this regal crown is embellished with 1537 diamonds.

Faberge Imperial Eggs

The ornate Easter eggs are a gift from Russia’s tsar Nicholas II to his mother Maria Fedorovna and his wife. Created by Carl Faberge, a faberge eggs has dazzled and intrigued audiences for centuries. The jewels decorated on the eggs worth admiring. I could have stood there for hours looking at the eggs alone.  Only one faberge egg can sell for millions. I can only imagine how much her collection is worth.

The Gardens

The four gardens located in the yard of the Hillwood Estate you don’t want to miss.

Rose Garden
Each of the rose beds will bloom in the summer creating a tranquil garden to stroll through.
French Parterre
Inspired by the parterres in France this 1700s style French garden is a walk through time. A French Parterre usually consists of symmetrical patterns and plant beds, and this ornamental garden is no different. Be sure after you stroll through the rose garden to make a stop at the French parterre.
Japanese-Style Garden
This garden contains plants native to Japan. Combining the ornamental garden style of Japan and America makes for an interesting garden arrangement.
Greenhouse
Rebuilt in 1996 this dreamy modern greenhouse is the home for many exotic orchids and tropical plants.

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Traveling exhibits

The photography of Alfred Eisenstaedt, a world renown German/ American photographer at Life Magazine, will be on display now through January 12, 2020. As a photography fanatic I could not have been happier about visiting this exhibit.

“When I began collecting, I did it for the joy of it, and it was only as the collection grew and such great interest was evidenced by others that I came to the realization that the collection should belong to the country.”

— Marjorie Merriweather Post

Additional Information

Location
I took the metro out to Shaw-Howard University Station and walked about fifteen minutes to get to the mansion. Additionally, taking an Uber or Lyft is also an easy option. It will cost you around $15 to get back to the mall.
Cost
Seniors $15
College Students $10
Children $5 
Children (under 6) free
Hillwood Members free

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