Maryhill Museum

MPF Conservation is a full-service company specializing in conservation, restoration and preservation of furnishings of upholstered and non-upholstered objects, textiles and interior architectural elements; this page discusses the history of Maryhill Museum in Washington.

A trip to Maryhill Museum is strongly recommended. There are various accommodations listed on their site, so that you are not hurried.

The following items or collections were assessed for Maryhill Museum:

We also reviewed beautiful items from the Spreckel’s Collection, however, the overall images did not turn out for this presentation.

Brief History of the Building and Players

Sam Hill (1857-1931), shown left, was born in North Carolina, but raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota after his family was displaced by the Civil War.

A lawyer by training, he represented the Railroads in many successful lawsuits. The Great Northern Railway’s General Manager, James J. Hill, hired him to represent his railway.

More on Sam in the Sam Hill Collection.

Sam Hill’s wife, Mary Hill Hill (1868-1947), above left;
the Queen Marie of Romania (1875-1938), above right.

On a round-the-world trip, he befriended Queen Marie of Romania (1875-1938). She was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, born Marie Alexandra Victoria. She met Sam Hill in 1893, a year after her marriage to Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania. It is her furniture donations to Maryhill that you will see in Maryhill Museum: Queen Marie Collection.

More on Queen Marie can be found in the Queen Marie Collection.

In 1907 Sam began buying acreage which he named after his wife and daughter, which is now the land of Maryhill Museum. He intended it as a farming community and hoped to persuade his wife to move, but was unsuccessful in both ventures. Maryhill was designed by architects Hornblower and Marshall. His wife and daughter never visited, and it was not completed in his lifetime.

The Mary and Bruce Stevenson Wing, an expansion completed in 2012 includes an education center, a collections suite, and a café.

Loie Fuller (1862-1928) was an actress and pioneer of the Modern Dance movement. She was a good friend of Sam Hill and Queen Marie, and was one of the key people who urged him to repurpose the home as an art museum.

Alma de Bretteville Spreckels (1881-1968) was also a good friend of Sam Hill’s and a great patron to the project after Sam’s death. Known as “The Great Grandmother of San Francisco” she persuaded her first husband, sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels, to donate the California Palace of the Legion of Honor to the city of San Francisco.

Image left is a Alma de Bretteville Spreckels in Queen Marie of Romania’s Silver Audience Throne (1924) by Richard Hall.

She turned the unfinished mansion into an art museum, and in 1938 she donated many objects from Queen Marie that were intended to go to San Francisco’s California Palace of the Legion of Honor including Queen Marie’s gold throne, a collection of art glass by Émile Gallé and René Lalique, European paintings, and ecclesiastical textiles.

Maryhill Museum did not open to the general public until 1940, nine years after Sam’s death.

Image of Stonehedge by MagicalT on flickr; MPFC trimmed.

Other Projects of Note

Sam Hill built a concrete replica of Stonehenge on the eastern end of Maryhill’s property. It took over a decade to complete, in 1929.

Sam Hill built the Maryhill Loop Road in 1911, the first asphalt road in the state, which takes you to Maryhill, though it is no longer used as a road.

Unknown photographer: Left to right: Unidentified man, Sam Hill, J.C.Potter, and Amos Benson on the Columbia River Highway circa 1915. From the Maryhill Museum of Art Collection.
Below, Maryhill Museum seen from across the Columbia Gorge.

Sam Hill was the catalyst behind the building of the Columbia River Highway which runs along the Columbia River.