Bunny Mellon’s Cape Cod Estate

Yesterday I wrote about a charming Cape Cod beach property designed by Kathryn M. Ireland and mentioned how it comes with a glorious past. I thought it would make a great post to delve into more detail and show you the property as it was in its previous life.

It used to belong to the late Rachel ”Bunny” Mellon and her banking heir husband, Paul Mellon. The couple, whose exceptional wealth was paired with remarkable good taste, used this as their summer retreat, entertaining famous friends like Jack and Jaqueline Kennedy, Hubert de Givenchy, Noel Coward to name just a few. Known for her impeccable style, Bunny Mellon however was not your typical heiress and socialite. She led a discrete, almost reclusive life, with minimal public exposure.

bunny 0

A celebrated gardener and horticulturalist, Mellon’s passion for gardens began in her childhood and later developed into a spectacular pursuit. She collected valuable horticultural books, and although she had no formal training, she designed the landscape for many remarkable gardens, most of them her own.  Mellon designed the White House Rose Garden for Jackie Kennedy. In France, she created the landscape plan for the gardens of fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy and assisted with the restoration of  Potager du roi, at Versailles.

A close friend and confidant of Jackie Kennedy before and after her White House days, Mellon also advised her on fine arts and antiques during the Kennedy White House Restoration. The Mellon’s private art collection was nothing short of spectacular too.  According to the Sotheby’s catalogue for the auction of their estate, they owned, among so many other valuable pieces, nine paintings by Rothko – one of the most expensive Rothko in a private sale,  ”No. 20 (Yellow Expanse)”.


{No.  20 (Yellow Expanse) by Mark Rothko in Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Farm, Virginia}

Coming back to this Cape Cod property, it was listed on the market in 2012 and sold the next year to Bill Koch. Located on Oyster Harbors island in Osterville, the estate is one of the largest waterfront properties that have been for sale in recent years. Sotheby’s called it ”one of the most significant parcels on the entire East Coast.”

Set on 26 acres, the property comprises 1,000 feet of shoreline, an 8-bedroom main house, a beach house, a detached studio, a tennis court, greenhouses, a pool and well preserved gardens, orchards and manicured lawns. The compounds were constructed under the careful watch of Bunny Mellon in the 1940s, whose design proficiency has long been admired. Bellow are some rare photos of the exteriors, as well as the interiors decorated by Mellon.


bunny mellon kitchen

bunny sink




bunny bedroom 4


bunny bedroom




bunny windows

bunny garden 3

bunny club chair

bunny flowers

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{Bunny and Paul}

And the best part? The new owners are appreciative of what this property stands for, its history and legacy. Mellon’s touch is still visible throughout the interiors, to this day.



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