Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden and Cleveland Park DC

An afternoon with a great gal pal, cannot be better spent, than lunch and tea at Hillwood in DC:)  I've enjoyed afternoons here with my mother, sisters and some great friends, Holly and Anna!!!  There are also many events held here throughout the year.  Coming up this weekend is the French Festival, Saturday July 13th from 10-5pm.  This is great fun!!!  Enjoy french theatrics, games, hands on art activities and music all on the grounds of Hillwood:)

The beautiful home of the glamorous Marjorie Merriweather Post, sits atop a hillside surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns and gardens.  As you ride through the front gates, you're instantly greeted with the scents of an array of blossoming flowers.  Simply park at The Visitor Center, walk in, grab tickets, and begin your afternoon!  There is a short film about Marjorie and Hillwood that you can watch before or after your tour, if you just cannot contain your excitement to be surrounded by such beauty!!!

Purchased by Majorie in 1955, Hillwood would soon become a place for people from all over the world, to be inspired by beauty and art!  This glorious home holds the most beautiful collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, an intricate, 18th-century French decorative art collection and twenty-five acres of beautifully created, tranquil gardens, bearing everything from trimmed roses to Japanese maples; there is even a waterfall!  By 1977 it was finally opened to the public as a place to learn and enjoy:)  Upon entering the front doors, you are transported into Marjorie's world, a world of elegance and grace, of beauty and admiration, a world that speaks to those of us that LOVE the beautiful things in life!!!     
Drawing Room

 Marjorie was born in 1887, the daughter of Ella and Charles Post, who founded the Post cereal corporation.  With her fathers strong work ethic, Marjorie was inspired to become a successful businesswoman in her own right!  Following her parents death in the 1910's, Marjorie, at the age of 27, became the owner of the $20 million Post cereal corporation.  Marjorie met and married Edward Bennett Close and they had two children together while living in New York.  Wealthy and enveloped in fortune, Marjorie decorated her home with the most fashionable current trends of the time, 18th century French antiques.  The beauty, elegance and intricate details of this style began creating and shaping the world around her, making her home a place she hosted many parties and treated guests to fine foods, wines and beautiful artifacts!      

During the 1920's, Marjorie married a second time, to financier Edward Hutton.  Together, this power couple transformed Post cereal into General Foods.  They had one child together and as a couple and a family, epitomized the Roaring 20's lifestyle!  They threw elegant, extravagant parties, held many charity and philanthropic events along the east coast, and during this time, Marjorie grew ever more admiring of Sevres porcelain, french furniture, jeweled boxes and Faberge eggs.  She collected items of beauty and splendor for all her residences, to give you another idea of the size of wealth she had, maybe a 54-room New York apartment, an estate in Palm Beach, an enormous log cabin complex decked out in Native American Artifacts in the Adirondacks, and a four-masted yacht, all decorated down to last detail, will give you an idea;)  This woman knew her stuff!!!   

It wasn't until her third marriage in the 1930's to Joesph Davies, that Marjorie began to collect fine decorative arts of imperial Russia.  Her new husband served as ambassador to the Soviet Union, so that is where they went to live.  During these years the government sought to make money for industrialization by selling off seized items from the church, imperial family, and the aristocracy.  It was here, in state-run store rooms that Marjorie took a liking to the fine craftsmanship of Russian art.  At the American embassy in Moscow, Marjorie blossomed in her role of diplomatic hostess and further developed her understanding of politics, diplomacy and philanthropy that would await her later in Washington, DC!

Marjorie purchased Hillwood, after her divorce in 1955 and remained there for the rest of her life.  Hillwood underwent a few transformations to make it a place of perfection, a place where she could showcase her fine collection, give back to the community in which she lived and thrived and host legendary parties.  She and Hillwood became completely integrated into the Washington, DC political and social scene and an invitation to Hillwood became a high honor and was not to be missed!!!
Her Bedroom

Marjorie continued to support American soldiers and veterans of war.  She was active in groups to raise money for the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Kennedy Center, just to name a few!  Her patriotism and passion for politics, philanthropy and art make her one of the most celebrated women in American History!!!  Once you finish your tour inside, move outside to her exquisite gardens, you can roam around the roses, walk down into the Japanese water garden complete with a bridge and waterfall, and be sure to check out the pet cemetery!!!  The Dacha House on the property always holds a new exhibit, so it's not to be missed!!! I've seen Pulp Fashion here, with Holly, we swooned over this collection of beautiful, handmade, paper textiles from the artist Isabelle de Borchgrave!!!  She had created gowns, shoes and crowns, all out of paper and paint, check her out online, you'll be amazed!!!

Back View
Side Garden

Also located on the property is a Cafe that serves lunch, desserts and Afternoon Tea, check the time schedule before you plan your day.  You can nibble on fantastically made soups and sandwiches and the teas and coffees are delicious:) There is also a greenhouse to explore boasting beautiful plants and flowers!  
Hidden treasures
A walk among the flowers
The putting green
Japanese water garden
Of course, Cleveland Park is right back down the road on Wisconsin Ave. so you can also get lunch at a number of restaurants before you head down Tilden to get to Hillwood:)  A great sushi spot is Spices, all the sushi is fresh and the jasmine tea is cool and refreshing!!!  This is where Anna and I started our day, with shrimp tempura sushi and dumplings:)  There are also a few cute shops there as well, Wake up little Suzie highlights different local artists work and has very fun gifts and home decor!  If you plan to spend the afternoon at Hillwood and go out in Cleveland Park afterwards, some highlighted restaurants include Medium Rare for steaks, Sorriso for great Italian, Indique for fine Indian fare, and Ardeo Bardeo for an American wine bar.  Cleveland Park also boasts a fantastic historic movie theatre, the Uptown!!! Check listings, because they only show one movie at a time, SUPER CUTE PLACE:)

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