If Hill-Stead strikes you as being more inviting and intimate than the typical museum, maybe it's because its original purpose was to be a home… a country house for a very real American family. A family of entrepreneurs, world travelers, avid readers, art lovers, and activists.
Rather than merely preserving the past, the people who lived, worked, and entertained here distinguished themselves by looking into the future. When the house was finished in June of 1901, the radical new ideas, technologies and social changes of the twentieth century were just around the corner.
Hill-Stead still gives its visitors the most pleasant of all "museum" experiences: surprise. A new way of looking at old treasures. A close-up, personal look at world-renowned masterpieces. And a sense that a significant historical era has not been cleverly recreated, but carefully and creatively kept real and relevant.
A Dazzling Impression.
In the late eighteen-hundreds, French Impressionist paintings were as avant-garde as graffiti "tags" are today. But Hill-Stead was envisioned to be a place as vibrant and interesting as the people who would come to visit. Alfred Atmore Pope trusted his instincts, and began to collect "avant-garde" works that would inspire friends, family, and visitors of future generations. His enterprising vision extended to his choice of architect for the thirty-thousand square foot homestead: he chose Theodate… his daughter, and the fourth registered female architect in the country.
"My interest in architecture has always been more intense than my interest in any other art manifestation, and on my word I think it is not dead yet-- not quite. If I only knew how to help the cause of good Architecture! But I am tired of seeing these fluted flimsy highly colored hen houses going up-- and am tired gnashing my teeth over them." -- Theodate Pope
It was Theodate who created the plans for a house as remarkable as the treasures within it. As architectural historian and connoisseur Barr Ferree stated in American Homes & Gardens, February 1910, this was a project that had the "zealous assistance" of Theodate Pope "to whom much of the interior treatment is due."
Still in the News
A visit to Hill-Stead is no dusty walk down memory lane. With its sunken garden, its walking paths, its breathtaking view, and its rooms full of unexpected treasures, it's a journey into a world where art and life come together. Where outdoor New England and Chippendale furnishings complement each other.Where the cosmopolitan tastes of the Gilded Age are brought into harmony with leisurely Sunday afternoons and festive family gatherings.
Here you will find the rarified and the priceless in situ, in unpretentious harmony with the comfortable and the domestic. Hill-Stead is open to the idea hunter. The connoisseur. The escapist, the historian and the futurist. Nothing here is an exhibit of bygone days to be gazed at from a distance. All of it is a showcase of ideas and ideals. Of life lived enthusiastically and graciously. The art of the possible… an option open to anyone in any era.