Fabulous Lives Here
April showers bring May flowers so what are you waiting for? With these sunny 70-degree days it’s high time to stop and smell the roses, and I know just the place. One of my favorite spots to enjoy gorgeous gardens in the spring is Hillwood – and if you haven’t had the pleasure, then you don’t know where fabulous lives.
Fabulous has always lived at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, thanks to Marjorie Merriweather Post: art collector, philanthropist, socialite, entrepreneur, and heiress to the Post cereal empire.
Before becoming the treasure trove of covet-worthy art and gardens that it’s known for today, Hillwood Estate was just one of many opulent, palatial homes owned by Marjorie and her Wall Street financier husband, E.F. Hutton.
When the power couple wasn’t filling Hillwood with art from their travels or building the General Foods empire, they were entertaining and basking in the sun at their Palm Beach party palace, Mar-a-Lago. And if you were someone, you received an invitation to visit during the winter social season, darling.
Marjorie and E.F.’s daughter, the lovely and gracious movie star Dina Merrill, was right at home with the VIPs at Mar-a-Lago. For a brief time, Cary Grant was even a member of the family – he was married to Dina’s first cousin and Woolworth heiress, Barbara Hutton. When Dina wasn’t chatting up Cary, Frank, Dean and other stars, she was busy charming members of DC society back at Hillwood.
Nestled away on 25 wooded acres in Northwest DC, Hillwood features the most extensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia. Highlights include a diamond crown worn by Empress Alexandra at her wedding to Nicholas II and fantastic Fabergé Easter eggs.
The collections don’t stop there. After four marriages, Marjorie had quite a collection of wedding gowns. Like mother, like daughters…the three Post girls racked up a dozen marriages (Adelaide-3; Eleanor-6; Dina-3). All of these dresses are on display at the Museum through January 2012.
Generous to the end, Mrs. Post’s final gift was to leave Hillwood Estate and Gardens as a museum to the public upon her death in 1973. Not only is the home très exquisite, but the lush gardens are beyond beautiful…
The Rose Garden
The Cutting Garden
The Japanese Garden
The French Parterre
This is only a sampling of the treasures you’ll find here. You can also visit the Museum Shop, grab lunch at the Hillwood Cafe, or enjoy a picnic on the lavish lawns.
Marjorie’s philanthropic spirit and flair for all things fabulous make a visit to Hillwood the “must-have” invitation of the DC spring season.
Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, and select Sundays; closed Mondays.
4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington DC, www.HillwoodMuseum.org.
Suggested donations: Adults – $15; Seniors – $12; College students – $10; Children (6-18) – $5; Children under 6 – free.