A LUSCIOUS LIFE: Rachel “Bunny” Lowe Lambert Mellon – Part 1

Bunny Mellon

Rachel “Bunny” Mellon photographed at a window of
her Virginia home for “Vogue” 1965 by Horst P. Horst

 

UPDATE: Netscape billionaire Jim Clark and his Australian model wife Kristy Hinze have bought Bunny Mellon’s New York townhouse for $37 million – Curbed has the goss.

UPDATE: The folk at Curbed have photos from Bunny Mellon’s Virginia property, which is now for sale for $70 million, and Architectural Digest did a piece in June 2014 with even more pictures.

UPDATE: Bunny Mellon’s estate including her Oak Springs property and artwork are being auctioned by Sothebys. The art alone could bring more than $100 million – more here.

Art patron, philanthropist, self-taught landscape gardener, and recluse Rachel “Bunny” Mellon (August 9, 1910 – March 17, 2014) died this week, aged 103…

 

Jackie Kennedy and Bunny Mellon

 

As well as being one of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis‘s best friends, she was an American horticulturalist, political patron and prolific art collector. Her  friends included presidents, royalty, socialites and celebrities.

 

Rachel Lambert Mellon, right, with her husband Paul, and Lady Bird Johnson at the National Gallery of Art.

Bunny Mellon, right, with her husband Paul Mellon,
and Lady Bird Johnson at the National Gallery of Art

 

Born Rachel Lowe Lambert in 1910, she was nicknamed “Bunny” by her parents, Rachel Parkhill Lowe and Gerard Barnes Lambert, president of the Gillette Safety Razor Company and a founder of Warner–Lambert. She attended Miss Fine’s School in Princeton, New Jersey and the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia.

 

Bunny Mellon - art patron gardener and philanthropist

 

Although she had no formal training, she was a passionate student of horticulture – in particular of French gardeners André Le Nôtre and Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie – she went on to design gardens for friends including Hubert de Givenchy’s Manoir du Jonchet in France.

 

Bunny Mellon - art patron and landscape gardener

 

Most famously, she worked regularly with the Kennedys, including the White House Rose Garden and the East Garden (later named the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden), as well as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum overlooking Boston Harbor. She also advised on fine arts and antiques during the Kennedy White House restoration.

On a private level, she worked on Jackie Kennedy’s summer house garden on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Bunny Mellon and friend Jacqueline Kennedy

Bunny Mellon standing behind Jackie Kennedy at
the funeral of Dr Martin Luther King in April 1968

 

In addition, she worked on the gardens of River Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, and assisted with a restoration of the potager du Roi in Versailles, south of Paris.

According to one obituary, “she designed gardens for dozens of clients, many of them her friends, and donated the payments to horticultural or medical causes”. She was also a Conservation Service Award winner. Read more here.

 

Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, art patron

Her friendship with the Kennedy family was so strong that she not only provided decorating assistance, but helped with the funerals of Jack, Jackie and John Jr, and Caroline’s 1986 wedding to Edwin Schlossberg in Hyannis Port.

 

Bunny and Paul Mellon

From left, Interior Secretary Oscar L. Chapman, Bunny Mellon
and Paul Mellon, and Gov. John S. Fine of Pennsylvania in 1952 

 

Famously private, she was a member of one of America’s richest families, through her second husband, billionaire Paul Mellon (1907–1999), a descendent of  family patriarch and Mellon Bank founder, Thomas Mellon and his son, industrialist Andrew W. Mellon.

 

Art patron Paul Mellon

Paul Mellon appreciating the Edgar Degas work “The Little Dancer”

 

But she was also rich and famous in her right, as her grandfather Jordan W. Lambert invented the mouthwash, Listerine.

She wore Balenciaga until his retirement, and then Givenchy, who made everything for her (from lingerie to couture gowns) and her staff.

 

Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and husband Paul Mellon

Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and her husband Paul Mellon

 

She died at home at her main property, Oak Spring Farms (see below) this week, and is survived by her son, Stacy Barcroft Lloyd III, from her first marriage to Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Jr. Their daughter, Eliza Winn Lloyd Moore, died in 2008, eight after years of fully paralysis after crossing a road and being run over by a truck.

She also had two stepchildren from her second husband’s previous marriage: Timothy Mellon and Catherine Conover Mellon. At the time of her death, she had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

Art patron and collector, Paul Mellon, husband of Rachel Lambert Mellon, known as Bunny

Art patron and passionate collector, Paul Mellon (1907–1999) 

 

Bunny Mellon

Eileen Pei, Paul Mellon, Bunny Mellon and I.M. Pei attend the opening
event of the National Gallery  
of Art East Building on May 30, 1978

 

 

 

At home with the Mellons

Bunny Mellon was passionate about gardening, horses and art, all of which could be enjoyed at the Mellon family property, Oak Spring Farms, a 4000-acre estate, in Upperville, Virginia.

 

Map - Upperville Virginia

Mellon estate - Oak Springs farm

 

A self-sustaining estate, it includes a neo-Georgian mansion, farmhouse, greenhouse and garden library (comprising 10,000 volumes on horticulture and 3,500 historical documents), an orchard and apple house, extensive vegetable gardens, cattle and a dairy, carpentry and metal shops, a pool house designed by I. M. Pei, and a private fire brigade.

 

Bunny Mellon's Upperville estate

 

Visitors to the security-conscious Virginia estate included John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Charles, and approximately 100-120 people are employed to keep things running smoothly.

Vanity Fair has a great article, Bunny Mellon’s Secret Garden, by James Reginato, with photographs by Jonathan Becker, which includes classic lines such as:

 “Monday I’m planning my funeral, and Tuesday I’ve got Bette Midler. Come Wednesday at 11:30.”

and

“Nothing should be noticed” (about everything needing to be sublimely low-key)

The Oak Spring Garden Library is located at 1746 Loughborough Lane, Upperville. Designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1980, an additional wing was designed by Thomas M. Beach in 1993, both in consultation with Bunny Mellon.  It is only open to the public via private appointment.

 

 

Scroll through the photo gallery here:

 

Bunny Mellon Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgRachel Bunny Mellon - Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia - gardens.jpgBronze rabbit - Rachel Bunny Mellon - Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgTeahouse with pool - Rachel Bunny Mellon - Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgBunny Mellon by Henri Cartier-Bresson in her Oak Spring garden 1962.jpgBunny Mellon house - garden room.jpgGreenhouse - Rachel Bunny Mellon - Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgRachel Bunny Mellon - Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia - basket house.jpgBunny Mellon personal botanical Library.jpgRachel Bunny Mellon - Virginia botanical library.jpgBunny Mellon private botanical library - Virginia estate.jpgBunny Mellon - Virginia botanical library.jpgThe garden - Bunny Mellon Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgVegetable garden - Rachel Bunny Mellon - Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgViews from Bunny Mellon Oak Spring estate in Upperville Virginia.jpgBunny Mellon property.jpg

 

 

Read more about the Trinity Episcopal Church (a gift to Upperville from the Mellons) and surrounding area.

 

Trinity Church Upperville - Mellon family

 

With a mile-long runway for her private plane, a Falcon 2000, she travelled between her homes in Antigua, Paris, Washington, Nantucket, and Osterville, a 26-acre water-front compound in Oyster Harbors, a gated Cape Cod community.

All houses were continuously staffed, in readiness for the arrival of the family.

 

See photos from the other Mellon homes in PART 2

 

 

 

Manhattan

They also had a stunning, double-wide, 5-storied, 11,100 square feet Manhattan townhouse, at 125 East 70th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues on the Upper East Side, custom built in a neo-French classic style, in 1965.

 

MAP: Homes of Paul and Bunny Mellon

MAP: Mellon mansion address - 125 East 70th Street

 

To create the house from scratch, they demolished two 1860 “roughhouses” which had stood on the site.

 

Former Bunny Mellon mansion on 125 East 70th Street

 

It was decorated by John Fowler (of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler fame) and Imogen Taylor from London, with the stenciled wood floors created by artist-decorator Paul Leonard and his business partner, William Strom. Read more here.

 

Bunny Mellon's upper east side home in Manhattan

 

Sold to Irish businessman Tony White and his wife Clare in 2006 for a cool $22.5 million, the 8-bed, 8-bath, 5 half-bath mansion with fireplaces, grotto, wine cellar, elevator, gardens and terrace, is now back on the market for $46 million.

 

Former home of Paul and Bunny Mellon in New York

 

Note: When it belonged to the Mellons, the entire second floor was devoted to staff quarters. It has since been renovated to include a kitchen and media room etc, for a more family-friendly layout.

 

Scroll through the photo gallery here:

 

The Mellon mansion on East 70th Street between Park and Lexington AvenuesCourtyard - Mellon mansion 125 East 70th StreetThe Mellon mansion on East 70th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues - exteriorCourtyard - Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street ManhattanMellon mansion 125 East 70th Street between Park and Lexington AvenuesBunny Mellon former townhouse on the upper east side NYEntrance hall - Mellon mansion 125 East 70th StreetHallway - Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street in New YorkBunny Mellon NY townhouse via World of InteriorsClare and Tony White - Manhattan dining room view to anteroom - previously Mellon housePaul and Bunny Mellon house at 125 East 70th Street New YorkFOR SALE Bunny and Paul Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street ManhattanBunny Mellon dining room doors to terraceThe NYC dining room as it appears in 2013 - former townhouse of Bunny MellonHallway - Bunny Mellon - upper east side pied a terreBunny Mellon NY pied a terre via World of InteriorsBunny and Paul Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street ManhattanBunny Mellon house at 125 East 70th Street New YorkThe Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street - 46 million dollarsDrawing room - Mellon mansion 125 East 70th StreetStaircase - Bunny Mellon NY home via World of InteriorsBunny Mellon NYC upper east side townhouseBunny Mellon NYCHouses of billionaires - Bunny and Paul Mellon - ManhattanLibrary - Bunny Mellon mansion 125 East 70th StreetBunny Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street Manhattan - kitchenHallway - Bunny Mellon NYC upper east side townhouseBunny Mellon bedroom in ManhattanBathroom - Bunny Mellon in upper east side pied a terreBedroom - Mellon mansion 125 East 70th StreetBedroom - Bunny Mellon NYC upper east side pied a terreBathroom - Bunny Mellon  upper east side pied a terreManhattan - Bunny Mellon upper east side pied a terreBunny Mellon mansion 125 East 70th Street Manhattan - bedroomMellon townhouse at 125 East 70th Street New York - floor planMellon townhouse at 125 East 70th Street New York - floor plan

 

 

 

The Carriage House

Three years later, in 2009, she sold another Manhattan townhouse, known as the Carriage House and also on East 70th Street, at 165 E 70th, one block down, for $13.5 million to former Morgan Stanley CEO John J. Mack. It includes a 12-car hideaway.

Read more about the history of this street via the New York Times.

 

Scroll through the photo gallery here:

 

Carriage house - A second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street.jpgCarriage house - formerly owned by the Mellon family - East 70th Street.jpgBruce Budd - Mellon residence garage entrance.jpgA second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street - garage.jpgA second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street.jpgOnce owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street in New York.jpgA second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street NYC.jpgCarriage house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street in New York.jpgFormer Mellon property on East 70th Street in New York.jpgFormerly owned by the Mellon family - East 70th Street.jpgA second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street in New York.jpg165 EAST 70TH STREET NY - details.jpeg165 EAST 70TH STREET Manhattan.jpegNot their main house - previously owned by the Mellon family - East 70th Street.jpgPreviously owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street.jpg165 EAST 70TH STREET - once owned by the Mellon family.jpegA second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street in Manhattan.jpg165 EAST 70TH STREET - garden.jpegA second smaller house once owned by the Mellon family on East 70th Street - floorplan.jpg165 EAST 70TH STREET facade.jpeg165 EAST 70TH STREET exterior.jpeg

 

 

 

 

See PART 2 of our look at the life and property of Bunny Mellon, which includes:

Bunny Mellon - Cape Cod garden meadow.jpg

RICH AND FAMOUS PEOPLE'S HOUSES: Bunny Mellon's Cape Cod home in Osterville

Former property at 17 Indian Trail, Osterville, Massachusetts
c51-Antigua house of Bunny Mellon.jpg

HOUSES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS: Bunny Mellon's Antigua property

A look at the former home of billionaires Paul and Bunny Mellon in Antigua

 

 

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Cheers, Natasha
www.myLusciousLife.com

 

 

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