000A. THE PRIVATE MUSEUMS - The Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens 7.15.13 JPG




Marjorie Merriweather Post was the only child of Ella Merriweather and Postum Cereal Company founder, C.W.Post.  Following the death of her parents in 1912 and 1914, twenty-seven-year-old Marjorie became one of the wealthiest women in America.  She was married to Edward Bennett Close and the mother of two daughters.  Since it was unseemly for women to be in the marketplace at the time, Marjorie focused her energies on two great passions: collecting 18th century French and Russian decorative arts and non-stop entertaining.


Edward F. Hutton, with whom she had daughter Dina Merrill, was husband number two.  He expanded the company into the General Foods Corporation.  When their marriage failed in 1935, Marjorie joined the company’s Board on which she was active for twenty years.


It was her third husband, US Ambassador to Russia Joseph E. Davies, with whom she lived in Moscow, who gave her the opportunity to assemble a priceless collection of Russian imperial art.


Following the demise of the Davies marriage in 1955, Marjorie purchased Hillwood, a 25-acre estate in Washington, DC, that became her spring and autumn home and a showcase for most of her vast decorative arts collection following a two-year renovation by New York architect Alexander McIlvaine and the design firms of French and Company and McMillen and Company.


After a fourth marriage to Herbert May, Marjorie resumed her maiden name.  Hillwood became entertainment central for family, friends, dozens of charities, organizations, and the crème de la crème of society, world leaders, artists, politicians et al.   Summer months were spent at Topridge, her “camp” in the Adirondacks and winter at the magnificent Mar-A-Lago mansion in Palm Beach.


Merriweather Post ran her estates like a corporation.  In addition to three homes she owned the “Merriweather”, a turbo-prop jet, the Silver Cloud, the grandest and largest yacht of its time, and thirty-four vehicles.


She always intended to turn Hillwood into a museum that would incorporate the treasures of her three estates upon her death.   Highlights of a Hillwood visit are endless: extraordinary French and Russian porcelain, Faberge eggs, Russian crowns, icons and chalices, French furniture by Riesener and the Roentgens, tapestries from Beauvaix, remarkable French and Russian paintings, chandeliers, a mosaic-topped dining room table from Mar-A-Lago and so on.  The rooms themselves are exquisite, including a vast kitchen/pantry area, a massage room, umpteen closets for clothing, shoes and jewelry, a film projection room, even several fully-stocked fall-out shelters.


The grounds proper beg exploration.  There is a Topridge cabin, a Russian dacha, a greenhouse overflowing with thousands of orchid plants, the chauffeur’s and head gardener’s houses and a beautiful cemetery for the family’s beloved dogs.

Marjorie Merriweather Post not only lived well but “artfully” and left a legacy to see and admire.


Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00AM – 5:00PM   Select Sundays: 1:00PM – 5:00PM

Closed during the month of January and on National Holidays

Admission: Suggested Donation: Adults: $15., Seniors: $12.,Students: $10. Children: $5.

4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008   Tel: (202) 686-5807 




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