When well known philanthropist Rachel (Bunny) Mellon passed away in 2014, a key provision of her will was that her beloved Oak Spring Garden estate in in Upperville, Virginia would be converted to a center for the study of horticulture. During her lifetime, Bunny, a devoted gardener, created stunning gardens on the estate, amassed a collection of priceless horticultural manuscripts and even designed the famous White House Rose Garden. One of the challenges of achieving her vision of a center for horticultural learning on her estate was the need to convert the Mellon's existing stables into hotel-style rooms for visiting scholars. Working with Architect Karl Riedel of Leesburg, our Interior Designer Cathleen Gruver, and Peter Crane, President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation and his wife Elinor, Gruver Cooley transformed spaces that had once housed race horses into comfortable rooms which fit seamlessly with the spirit of the Mellon property.
The original barn was designed in 1949 by New York architectural firm Cross and Sons, which was responsible for many notable buildings there. Although the barn's purpose changed dramatically, the exterior facade was maintained as originally conceived by Mr. Mellon. In the interior, all flooring, wainscoting and some millwork was fabricated using Oak Spring Farm grown timber in maple, oak, walnut and poplar. The desks within each room were also fabricated on site using wood grown on the estate. The barn is ADA accessible and 20% of the rooms meet ADA standards.
Making comfortable hotel-style rooms required a number of new systems to be integrated into the structure and provided the opportunity to use sustainable best building practices. Geothermal wells were drilled to provide energy efficient low impact heating and cooling. All ductwork is insulated and sealed, icynene insulation is used on all walls and attic areas and ground level floors are insulated with R6 insulation. Low water toilets and low pressure showers are used in each of the new bathrooms, and all windows are high efficiency advanced low e glass.
As you view the pictures above, we think you will agree that the Mellon Legacy has been well preserved while moving the property responsibly into a new chapter of its storied history.