Lunar Lawn

Before Hillwood: A History of this Land

Inspired by Rich Soil’s invitation to remember and honor those ancestors who have walked this land before us, learn more about those who have previously cared for the land Hillwood now stewards. 

Dr. Elizabeth Rule, the program’s first speaker, will explore the history and legacy of the Native peoples on whose ancestral land Hillwood now stands, and discuss the historical, as well as contemporary, contributions by Indigenous communities to the shaping of Washington, D.C.

Dr. Wilfried Zeisler will then explore the stories of those who have been on Hillwood’s twenty-five acres since the late 1700s, including the Peirce family and the people they enslaved, the Erwins from whom Marjorie Post purchased Hillwood, and Marjorie Post and her staff. 


6:30-7:30 p.m. Lecture

  • 25 minutes from Dr. Elizabeth Rule
  • 25 minutes from Dr. Wilfried Zeisler
  • Moderated Q&A


Dr. Elizabeth Rule, pictured in front of the US CapitolDr. Elizabeth Rule is the Director of the AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy, Assistant Professor of Professional Studies, and Faculty in Residence at George Washington University, as well as a current MIT Indigenous Communities Fellow. Rule’s research on issues in her Native American community has been featured in the Washington Post, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, The Atlantic, Newsy, and NPR. She is also a published author, releasing scholarly articles in American Quarterly and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. More than one hundred public speaking engagements and interviews on topics related to Indian Country have taken her across three continents and to seven countries. She is the creator of the Guide to Indigenous DC, a digital mapping mobile application, and her forthcoming monograph, Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s Capital examines the historical and contemporary contributions of Indigenous Americans to the District of Columbia. Previously, Dr. Rule has held posts as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative at American University, Ford Foundation Fellow, and Predoctoral Fellow at MIT. Rule received her Ph.D. and M.A. in American Studies from Brown University, and her B.A. from Yale University. Rule is an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. 

Wilfried Zeisler standing in front of The Boyar Wedding Feast by Konstantin MakvoskyDr. Wilfried Zeisler is Hillwood’s chief curator. He is a graduate of Sorbonne University and the Ecole du Louvre, Paris. Wilfried has written extensively on French and Russian decorative arts, including a 2010 book on French ceramics commemorating the Franco-Russian Alliance, several articles, and contributions to books such as Artistic Luxury Fabergé Tiffany Lalique (2008). Wilfried’s dissertation, L’Objet d’art et de luxe français en Russie (1881-1917) [French Objets d’art and Luxury Goods in Russia], was published in Paris in 2014. Since 2009, he has participated in and curated exhibitions in Paris, Monaco, and Washington DC.

At Hillwood, his most recent exhibitions were Fabergé Rediscovered (2018), Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces (2019), Natural Beauties: Exquisite Works of Minerals and Gems (2020), and The Porcelain Flowers of Vladimir Kanevsky (2021). Wilfried co-authored Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar's Painter in America and Paris (2015), and is the author of Fabergé Rediscovered  and Vivre la Belle Epoque à Paris -- Paul de Russie et Olga Paley, both published in 2018. He is currently working on two book projects, one exploring the connections between the Yusupovs and Parisian culture and the second on the collection of Hillwood’s founder, Marjorie Post (co-authored with Hillwood’s curatorial team). 


This is the ninth annual lecture honoring the legacy of Hillwood’s former executive director, Frederick J. Fisher, who served for twenty years (1990-2010). 

Archival aerial view of Hillwood