Book Talk & Reception with Landscape Historian Mac Griswold

Join us on Sunday, May 7, at 5 p.m., for a book talk with acclaimed author and landscape historian Mac Griswold. She will discuss her new work, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise: A Life of Bunny Mellon.” Griswold—who knew Bunny Mellon personally—delves into her subject’s closely-guarded personal archives to construct an unrivaled portrait of a woman as complex and multifaceted as the gardens and homes on which she left her mark.

Griswold describes how Mellon’s masterpiece, the White House Rose Garden of President John F. Kennedy, “demonstrated how formal restraint and the sparing use of color could be deployed to maximal effect. Later, her understated landscape design for the Kennedy grave site at Arlington National Cemetery changed the face of American public memorials.”

Diane von Furstenberg writes that Griswold’s book is “like an exquisite string of pearls: the perfect balance of elegance, style, design, and beauty.” She calls the book “inspiring, spirited, and totally absorbing.”

JHC Members – Talk and reception, including signed book $25

General Admission – Talk and reception including signed book: $50



Official bio: Mac Griswold is an acclaimed cultural landscape historian and writer. Rooted in a childhood spent exploring the castles and towers of lush north central New Jersey, Mac went on to study landscape design at the Radcliffe Seminars and horticulture at the New York Botanical Gardens. After living and writing in New York City for decades and on the East End of Long Island for twenty years, Mac decamped for Virginia in 2014 where she lived for seven years not far from Bunny Mellon’s library, archives, and gardens in Upperville before moving to rural Pennsylvania, her present home, where she continues to write and to garden. Her previous books have centered on lives and places of cultural and historic importance. This book, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, a Life of Bunny Mellon, her first full biography, is no exception.

Mac currently serves as a member of the stewardship council of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), an organization with a long history of advocacy and partnerships with JHC.


The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) is an educational nonprofit and the steward of the Jay Estate in Rye, New York, a 23-acre National Historic Landmark site and public park. JHC hosts programs in American history, social justice, environmental stewardship, architecture, and preservation.