In the late 1930s, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies and his extremely wealthy wife, General Foods owner Marjorie Merriweather Post, purchased hundreds of Russian antiquities at rock-bottom prices. Many of these are now on view at her former mansion, Hillwood Museum, in Washington, DC, making it world-famous for its collection of icons, Fabergé eggs, and other imperial art.
Interestingly, just a few blocks away from Hillwood there is another treasure-trove of pre-revolutionary Russian delights. It is the residence of Peter MacDonald, a retired diplomat and self-professed Russophile.
MacDonald and his wife Allen live in a wooden, dacha-like 1911 Sears Catalog house. Paintings and hundreds of books on Russia line the walls or are stacked on the floor. Ordinarily, in an old-fashioned Russian home, a single samovar would be sufficient to make things cozy, but MacDonald has dozens. Five of them line the top of the den bookshelf – short ones that can squeeze under the ceiling. Others inhabit window seats and side tables. They dwell en masse in the kitchen, as well.
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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