Metro Weekly

Spotlight: A Very Merriweather Christmas at Hillwood

Beautifully adorned trees reflecting the life of Marjorie Merriweather Post fill the rooms of Hillwood Museum

Hillwood for the Holidays

There are very few places like Hillwood for the holidays.

“The mansion always has these beautiful glittering trees,” says Lynn Rossotti. “And the gardens are approaching their winter stages. It’s always kind of a peaceful, nice holiday experience. Most people just don’t expect this little oasis — it’s such a surprise right in Washington, D.C.”

Rossotti is the Director of Marketing and Visitor Experience at Hillwood, an estate tucked away in the leafy, hilly Van Ness area of Upper Northwest. Each year, the mansion is bedecked with Christmas trees, and this year’s decorating theme stems from a new biography about Hillwood’s founder, Marjorie Merriweather Post, with a particular focus on “the characteristics and the values that really made Marjorie who she was and why she was such an important woman in the 20th century.”

“My favorite tree is a tree that is decorated completely in floral, [and that] has live orchids tucked in all over it,” says Rossotti. “[Post bequeathed] Hillwood to the public so that people could continue to be inspired by this passion that she had for beautiful things for generations to come. So this tree is really to celebrate her passion and that gift that she left.”

Hillwood for the Holidays

Another tree in the mansion has a tulle skirt and is decorated with ornaments of musical notes and birdhouses — all nodding to her philanthropic work of helping shape cultural institutions ranging from the Washington Ballet to the National Symphony Orchestra. “Her imprint on Washington is really important,” Rossotti says, adding that her impact extended far beyond the Beltway. “She was one of the first women to sit on the board of a publicly-traded company,” that of General Foods, the parent company of the Post Cereal Company founded by her father. “It’s a story that can really resonate with younger women today, to understand the progress that we’ve made [and] how important people like Marjorie in the mid-20th century were to opening up those doors.”

Rossotti notes that Hillwood’s gift shop has “some great distinct gifts for holiday shopping,” but that the decorations are up past gift-giving season. “A lot of people love to come [visit] between Christmas and New Year’s. They still have their friends in town or they are still off of work. It’s really a fun thing to do with other people.”

A Very Merriweather Christmas is on display through Jan. 12 at Hillwood Estate, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Suggested donation is $18. Call 202-686-5807 or visit www.hillwoodmuseum.org/events/christmas.

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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