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  • Writer's pictureJill

China, & Crystal, & Silver...Oh My! Treasures at the Hillwood Museum

The Hillwood Museum in Washington D.C. is the former residence of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the CEO of General Foods, and a hostess and collector extraordinaire. It is a actually "a mansion, that's now a museum." [1]

Concerned with Hillwood's fate after her death, Post arranged in 1962 to bequeath the estate, along with a $10 million endowment to maintain it, to the Smithsonian Institution so that it might be maintained as a museum. She made the bequest of Hillwood contingent upon its being maintained and used according to her wishes (which included the condition that the estate not be used for dining), and she established the Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation of the District of Columbia to ensure compliance: any property improperly used would revert to the Foundation. Post was residing at Hillwood when she died on September 12, 1973.[2]

The Smithsonian declined to make the changes needed to convert Hillwood to a museum, and complained that by 1975 the endowment, producing $450,000 annual income, was insufficient to maintain the site. Accordingly, Hillwood and the majority of the collection was returned to the Post Foundation by April 1976.[2]

Hillwood opened as a public institution in 1977, endowing the country with the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, a distinguished 18th-century French decorative art collection, six working greenhouses boasting one of the country’s finest orchid collections, and twenty-five acres of serene landscaped gardens and natural woodlands for all to enjoy. [3]

A beautiful legacy of a strong woman.

[2]Rubin, Nancy (1994). American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post. iUnivers Star, Lincoln, Nebraska (originally published by Villard Books). ISBN 0-595-30146-0.


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