Tag Archives: John Jay

Kids History Adventures at John Jay Homestead

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This summer your kids can become pioneering wilderness explorers with Lewis and Clark, patriotic soldiers during the War of 1812, and investigative naturalists and archeologists during John Jay Homestead’s History Adventure Days, a themed summer camp weeks at John Jay Homestead, organized as three weekly sessions.

Kids entering grades 2-7 can sign up for one session or all three. This year’s themes are “Exploring the Unknown: Lewis & Clark and the Corp of Discovery” (July 25-29), “Broad Stripes and Bright Stars: The War of 1812” (August 1-5), and “Seeing is Believing: Uncovering the Cabinet of Curiosity” (August 8-12).

Each session runs Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The cost is $250.00 per week. A 10% discount is given to members of Friends of John Jay Homestead. Daily rates are available. More information about the program can be found online or by calling (914) 232-5651 x101. Be sure to register your child soon; spaces are limited and fill up quickly.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Route 22 in Katonah, Westchester County, NY. It is one of six state historic sites and 16 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region.

John Jay’s Manhattan Historic Walking Tour

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John Jay’s Manhattan, an historic walking tour sponsored by John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, will take place Saturday, May 21. Participants will meet in lower Manhattan, and step off promptly at 10:00 a.m., rain or shine. The cost of participation is $20.00 per person; members of the Friends of John Jay Homestead can participate for $15.00.

Founding Father John Jay, America’s first Chief Justice, was born and educated in New York City, and spent much of his life there. The walking tour will trace his haunts, visiting the locations of the places where he lived and worked as one of New York’s leading lawyers and politicians, as well as U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Chief Justice of the United States, and Governor of New York. The tour will recall the time when New York was the capitol city of a young republic, and present a reminder of how the geography and architecture of Manhattan Island have changed since the arrival of the first European settlers in the 17th century.

The walk will cover approximately 1¾ miles and take about two hours, proceeding at a leisurely pace over mostly level terrain. Comfortable footwear is highly recommended. The tour will both begin and end in lower Manhattan, convenient to several subway lines. Attendance is limited, and advance registration is required; payment is due in advance, and is non-refundable. To reserve your place and learn the tour’s initial gathering place, call John Jay Homestead at (914) 232-5651, extension 100.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Route 22, Katonah, N.Y. It is regularly open for guided tours Sunday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and at other times by appointment.

Illustration: Portrait of John Jay painted by Gilbert Stuart.

John Jay Homestead’s Curator on American Silver

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Curator’s Fabulous Finds, a series of artifact talks at John Jay Homestead, will continue on Sunday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m., and will be repeated on Thursday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. This spring’s lecture will examine and discuss British, Spanish, and American silver from the Homestead’s historic collection. The cost of admission will be $10.00 per person; members of the Friends of John Jay Homestead may attend at no charge.

Like all members of the upper class in the early 19th century, the Jays used fine silver on a day-to-day basis. Among the objects to be examined are John Jay’s elegant, Neoclassical Sheffield plate hot water urn and a very rare, early 18th-century sterling silver teapot made for his wife’s grandmother by the noted silversmith, Pieter Van Dyck.

Attendees will also view up close such unusual objects as an 18th-century silver table fork from Spain, a Bull’s Eye lamp (which burned whale oil), a silver and coral whistle and bells (a baby’s toy for play and for teething), and a mote spoon, used for removing stray tea leaves from one’s cup of tea. The differences between sterling silver, coin silver, and Sheffield plate will be discussed, as will the techniques of hand working silver in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Space at the talk is limited, and reservations are strongly suggested. To reserve seats, call John Jay Homestead at (914) 232-5651, extension 105.

John Jay was a President of the Continental Congress, the second U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the second Governor of New York State. He retired to Bedford in 1801 to live the life of a gentleman farmer. His home is now a beautiful sixty-two acre historic site that includes lovely walks, several gardens, farm buildings, and a richly-decorated main residence restored to the 1820s, the last decade of Jay’s life.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Route 22, Katonah, Westchester County, NY. John Jay Homestead is regularly open for guided tours Sunday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and at other times by appointment.

Photo: John Jay’s silver tea urn. Courtesy john Jay Homestead.

Nation’s First Offical Monument to be Restored

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America’s first official monument is being disassembled, cleaned, restored and returned to its pedestal on the Broadway façade of St. Paul’s Chapel where it has presided for 223 years, it was announced by The Rev. Dr. James Cooper, the 17th Rector of the Parish of Trinity Wall Street. The first full restoration of the Montgomery monument will take place onsite and is scheduled for completion later this summer.

“The parish of Trinity Wall Street has been a part of New York City’s and our nation’s history for over three centuries. St. Paul’s and Trinity Church now draw more than 3 million visitors annually. As good stewards of our landmark properties, our obligation is to preserve the best of the past, engage the present and hopefully inform the future,” Dr. Cooper said. “The restoration of America’s first monument, commemorating the heroism of Major General Richard Montgomery in our nation’s struggle for independence, is part of that process. It is also a lively chapter in our own history,” he said.

The marble and limestone Montgomery monument was commissioned by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in January 1776, as reported in an appreciative treatise by Henry Kent, a former Secretary to the Board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, writing in a 1929 Trinity publication. The memorial pays tribute to the valor of Major General Richard Montgomery, who died in December 1775 at the age of 37 leading a charge against a larger British force in the Battle of Quebec. The amenable Benjamin Franklin was entrusted to have a monument fashioned in France that would transmit “to future ages, as examples truly worthy of imitation, (General Montgomery’s) patriotism, conduct (and) boldness of enterprise.” For the purpose, Congress allocated “a sum not exceeding three hundred pounds” (comparable to the value of six of the 342 chests of tea dumped into Boston harbor).

Franklin, in Paris, engaged Jean-Jacques Caffieri, a renowned sculptor who worked on Versailles and according to Franklin, “is one of the best artists here.” The completed work was shipped to Le Havre in 1777 in nine “strong” cases in preparation for the risky voyage to America. Caffieri complained about his fee and Franklin, while extolling “the beauty of the marble and the elegant simplicity of the design,” noted that he (Franklin) had “to pay the additional charges of package.”

According to Henry Kent, the pragmatic Franklin took precautions should the French ship become an enemy prize, writing to a connected British business friend, “If (the monument) should fall into the hands of any of your cruisers, I expect you will exert yourself to get it restored to us, because I know the generosity of your temper, which likes to do handsome things, as well as to make returns.”

The monument arrived safely, but not in Philadelphia. It was sent to Edenton, North Carolina, entrusted to Joseph Hewes, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and considered by many the first Secretary of the Navy. The port of Edenton was one of the few remaining American held custom houses. And there the Montgomery monument lingered.

During this period, Franklin wrote to John Jay, then to Robert Livingston (Montgomery’s brother-in-law) and again in 1786 to John Jay regarding the monument, asking “what is become of it?” He noted that in the opinion of some “republics are noticeably ungrateful…and letting the Monument lie eight years unpacked, if true, seems rather a confirmation of it.”

While Franklin received no replies, unknown to him notice had been taken–perhaps in response to his earlier letter to Livingston–when a member of the New York Congressional delegation offered a resolution, which Congress adopted, for the monument to be sent from North Carolina to New York City. The New York State legislature adopted a similar resolution saying City officials should decide on its exact location. But still the monument did not move.

The leisurely bureaucratic pace seems finally to have been stirred by Mrs. Montgomery from her estate in Rhinebeck enlisting the aid of a prominent jurist and former governor of North Carolina to actually get the monument shipped. Ultimately, the monument was transferred to New York with St. Paul’s being the unanimous site chosen by the City’s Board of Aldermen, and the Trinity vestry agreeing in 1787 on the chapel’s east wall window. The following year, as a side note, the city asked the state to repay the £171.7 it had spent on erecting the monument.

The monument was installed by Pierre L’Enfant, who subsequently gained fame planning Washington, DC. L’Enfant also created a unique double-sided work of art at the rear, great window of the chapel. It functions as an altarpiece that blocks the view of the unfinished back of the Montgomery monument that could otherwise be seen by worshippers through the chapel window, and which also functions as a frame for the monument when viewed from the exterior. Interestingly, the frame contains post-Independence symbols, including a rising sun with thirteen rays and a bald eagle, draping the pre-Independence memorial.

Finally, in 1818, at Mrs. Montgomery’s further request, the General’s body was shipped from Quebec. The widow, standing on the balcony of her Rhinebeck home overlooking the Hudson, watched the steamer pass by, carrying the General to be re-interred at St Paul’s, the monument becoming a tomb. An imposing funeral was held for General Montgomery with full military honors and choral music on July 8, 1818—43 years after his fatal assault on Quebec.

The baroque and rococo style marble and limestone monument depicts the General’s virtues rather than his physical form. Various trophies symbolize liberty, strength, chivalry and martyrdom, and there are also carvings of a plowshare, a martyr’s palm frond supporting a liberty cap, a Herculean club, an oak branch and a broken sword.

Time, the elements, cement, paint drippings and problems from corrosive agents used in early prior repairs have caused discoloration, cracks and surface deterioration. The full restoration, the first since its installation, will remove the drippings and corrosive agents, make repairs using sympathetic and compatible materials (including a version of 18th century grout), where needed replace missing marble and limestone from the same quarries (with the help of the present head architect of Versailles) and refresh painted areas.

Non-destructive cleaning and compatible repair methods will be employed to reveal and stabilize the original stone while an invisible coating will be applied in select locations to provide protection from the weather and harmful salts from bird droppings.

Glenn Boornazian, president and principal conservator of Integrated Conservation Resources, is undertaking the restoration for Trinity Wall Street.

About Trinity Wall Street

Located at the head of Wall Street, Trinity Church has been part of New York City’s and our nation’s history since its charter in 1697. Today, the organization has grown to include many important areas of focus and is collectively known as Trinity Wall Street. Most importantly, Trinity Wall Street is an Episcopal parish offering daily worship services and faith formation programs at Trinity Church, St. Paul’s Chapel, and online at trinitywallstreet.org. In addition, Trinity Wall Street includes Trinity Grants, providing $80 million in funding to 85 countries since 1972; Trinity Preschool; Trinity Institute, an annual theological conference; an extensive arts program presenting more than 100 concerts each year through Concerts @ One, the Trinity Choir, and the Trinity Choristers; and Trinity Real Estate, which manages the parish’s six million square feet of commercial real estate in lower Manhattan.

About St. Paul’s Chapel

Opened in 1766, St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use – a place where George Washington worshiped and 9/11 recovery workers received round-the-clock care. Part of the Episcopal Parish of Trinity Church, St. Paul’s is a center for worship and the arts, a community of reconciliation, and a place of pilgrimage for all people.

Photo: Montgomery Monument. Courtesy Leah Reddy – Trinity Wall Street.

Youth Mini-Camps at John Jay Homestead

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From Monday through Thursday, April 18th through 21st, John Jay Homestead State Historic Site will host Spring School Break Mini-Camps for children aged 5 to 10. Each day’s activities will be two hours long, and be operated as a drop-off program.

The first mini-camp, starting at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, April 18th, will be Here, There, and Everywhere! How did people get around 200 years ago? What types of transportation did they use? How did travel expose people to new and fascinating discoveries? Children will answer these questions while exploring the bedrooms of John Jay and his daughter, Nancy. They will then make a shell craft to take home.

Starting at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19th, the program will be The Artist in You! Do you like art? Do you know the difference between a painting and a print? Or how long it took to have your portrait painted 200 years ago? Children will explore the extensive art collection at the Homestead, and then try their hand at printmaking.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20th, the morning will be devoted to Birds of a Feather. Calling all birdwatchers! Come and explore the Homestead’s beautiful grounds and learn about the birds that live here. See how many different types of birds you can find. Children will then make something to help the birds that live in their own backyards.

Starting at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21st, the program will be Clean As a Whistle. How did people keep clean, bathe, and do their laundry 200 years ago? How often did they take a bath? If there was no indoor plumbing, where was their bathroom? Children will tour William Jay’s bedroom and the cellar kitchen to learn about personal hygiene 200 years ago, and make their own soap.

The cost of the mini-camps is $15 per child per day; members of the Friends of John Jay Homestead will receive a $3.00 discount. Reservations are required, and can be made by phoning John Jay Homestead’s Education Department at (914) 232-5651 x101.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Route 22 in Katonah, N.Y. (Westchester County). It is one of six state historic sites and 13 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation—Taconic Region. For more information about New York State Parks, log onto www.nysparks.com.

County Must Clean-Up Soil Dumped at Jay Heritage Site

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The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) in Rye, N.Y., is expressing its gratitude to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the speed with which it followed up on the problems of contaminated fill on the historically and environmentally important Jay Heritage Site property.

In January, the Westchester Parks Department added fill to the grounds of the Jay Heritage Center that contained obvious trash and debris. JHC commissioned a independent study of the soils and found that it was also contaminated with SVOCs, pesticides (like DDT and chlordane) arsenic and heavy metals such as lead and chromium. The Jay Property is the boyhood home of Founding Father John Jay who is also buried in a private cemetery at the Rye estate.

Joe Stout, Westchester County Parks and Conservation Commissioner, had declared the fill safe in an email to JHC President, Suzanne Clary and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) on January 25, 2010 which said in part “We are confident that the fill is safe.”

Westchester County has now confirmed however, that it will abide by a DEC request to clean-up the site within 30 days. According to a press release issued by Jay Heritage, in talks with the County Executive’s office, the County assured JHC that this clean-up will be done with full protection of archaeologically sensitive artifacts and in consultation with JHC. Archaeological review will be conducted in historic garden areas and behind an Indoor Tennis House that is thought to be the 3rd oldest in the United States.

JHC president Suzanne Clary said, “We look forward to working with the new County administration and NY State to safeguard and preserve John Jay’s boyhood home in Rye with renewed dedication, and historic and archeological sensitivity.”

Disclosure: Jay Heritage Center is an advertising supporter of New York History.

Photo: Visible Debris in fill at the Jay Heritage Center.

John Jay Descendent Makes Gift of Early Historic Drawings

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John Clarkson Jay, Jr. of Massachusetts, a direct descendant of Founding Father, John Jay, together with his wife Emily, has donated two original family drawings to the permanent collection of the Jay Heritage Center. One is a watercolor and the other a pencil sketch; both depict the Jay family’s original home, “The Locusts” and its landscape in Rye circa 1745. John Jay’s family moved to Rye from Manhattan when he was only 3 months old and purchased an expanse of 250 acres between Long Island Sound and the Boston Post Road.

From his childhood upbringing in Rye, John Jay went on to serve in every branch of US government including roles as first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two term governor of New York State, co-author of the Federalist Papers and negotiator of the Jay Treaty. He is buried in Rye with his family and descendants in a private cemetery. Upon visiting the Jay Property in 1976, the late Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun said, “It was a place that struck me then as symbolic of what was impressive about certain aspects of the latter part of the 18th century—gracious living and status to be sure, but coupled with a sense of responsibility, particularly to government and to the art of getting along together…I am certain that all of us who are here today join in saluting the Jay family for its significant contributions that meant so much when this Nation that we all love was in its precarious infancy.”

“The Locusts” farmhouse will be a recognizable subject to those familiar with another artist’s work, that of renowned American modernist painter Guy Pene du Bois (1884-1958). Du Bois was a student of Robert Henri and a contemporary of Edward Hopper. Since 1938, du Bois’ mural of John Jay and “The Locusts” has adorned the interior of the Caroline O’Day Post Office in Rye. The composition of this WPA work was based on the very same 19th century sketches of the Jay home that have now been donated to the Jay Heritage Center.

While “The Locusts” no longer exists –the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House was built atop its footprint– builders of the Greek Revival mansion salvaged original nails and timbers from the earlier farmhouse and used them in the new construction. The house is currently open for Sunday tours and visitors can see where these fragments were reincorporated into the building.

The newly acquired Jay drawings will be unveiled to the public on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at “Jay Day!” 1:00- 5:00pm. Several of the Jay descendants will also be on hand for this celebration of a legacy preserved. The JHC hopes that the community will be able to see firsthand how beautiful the Jays’ Rye estate once was and imagine it restored to glory and usefulness again.

Welcome Our New Sponsor, The Jay Heritage Center

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Please join me in welcoming The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) as our new sponsor for New York History. Support from advertisers like JHC helps make this site possible. If you are interested in supporting us and extending your brand through advertising targeting those interested in New York history, let us know.

The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) in the lower Hudson valley in Rye, New York was chartered in 1993 to oversee restoration of John Jay’s boyhood property in Rye, including the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House. The site has been closed for a time due to extensive restoration but has recently re-opened. The JHC was recently named to the Hudson River Valley Heritage Area. The grounds and pastoral landscape of the 23 acre scenic 1745 Jay Property are a must see for visitors interested in American History, Social Justice, Landscape Preservation and Environmental Stewardship as well as lively place for concerts, interactive theatre and art shows. The site also has a a great Quadricentennial Exhibit. “A Legacy of Sailing-Residents of the Jay Estate and Yachting New York 1843-1966.”

Begun in the spring of 2008, New York History has already grown to be the state’s most popular online journal about New York State history. The site has become a go-to state news resource for those interested in New York history from the academic to the lay traveler and resident and for those outside the state who want to stay current on history news happening in the state, the latest books, and events and exhibits.

Jay Heritage Center’s 400th Yachting & Sailing Exhibit

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The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) in the lower Hudson valley in Rye, New York was chartered in 1993 to oversee restoration of John Jay’s boyhood property in Rye, including the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House. The site has been closed for a time due to extensive restoration but has recently re-opened. The JHC was recently named to the Hudson River Valley Heritage Area. The grounds and pastoral landscape of the 23 acre scenic 1745 Jay Property are a must see for visitors interested in American History, Social Justice, Landscape Preservation and Environmental Stewardship as well as lively place for concerts, interactive theatre and art shows. The site also has a a great Quadricentennial Exhibit. “A Legacy of Sailing-Residents of the Jay Estate and Yachting New York 1843-1966.”

Owners of the historic Jay Estate in Rye and their families shared a passion for the water and were influential members of the New York sailing community: John Clarkson Jay was one of the founders of the historic New York Yacht Club, owner of the yacht, “La Coquille” and a consultant to Commodore Matthew Perry following his 1852 -54 Expedition to Japan; the Van Norden patriarch, a member of the Holland Society, was one of the original organizers of the 1909 Henry Hudson Tercentenary that celebrated New York’s most vital waterway while applauding the contributions of European culture to this state’s development and commerce; Edgar Palmer, famed Princeton philanthropist, owned several famous yachts including two schooners named “Guinevere” that were legendary for their state of the art technology—both vessels were commissioned to the US Navy in World War I and World War II for special escort patrol.

The exhibit explores the rich history of yachting in New York and features the same pristine view of Long Island Sound from the 1838 Jay mansion that inspired these sailing families when they lived in Rye. Among the unique items are extensive collections of 1909 Hudson Fulton Tercentenary memorabilia including post cards, banners, silver and bronze medals for the 1909 Commission; original engraved invitations, programs and silverware from Tiffany’s; vintage photographs of the 1909 naval parade; 100 year old ship plans of the replica Half Moon and Clermont; maritime photographs from Mystic Seaport’s unparalleled Rosenfeld Collection; an original 1916 scrapbook documenting the very first of the NY 40 design regattas from Long Island Sound all the way to Marblehead and more.

The exhibit is just one reason to visit the site. According to the JHC website:The Jay Property in Rye is the boyhood home of New York State’s only native Founding Father, John Jay (1745-1829). Located next to a marshlands preserve with public trails, this sylvan and historic 23 acre park is all that remains of the original 400 acre Jay family estate where America’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and author of The Jay Treaty grew up. Located just 35 minutes from Manhattan, the Property has an 8000 year old scenic vista of Long Island Sound over a meadow bordered by sunken stone ha-ha walls, a European garden design feature added by Jay’s eldest son circa 1822. It is also located on the historic Boston Post Road where mile marker “24” out of 230, designated in 1763 by Jay’s colleague, Benjamin Franklin, is set into the perimeter wall.

The centerpiece of this National Historic Landmark is an 1838 Greek Revival mansion with soaring Corinthian columns built by Peter Augustus Jay atop the footprint of his father and grandfather’s original home “The Locusts” reusing original timbers and nails from the same house. Visitors can literally see the layers of history being uncovered here. The PA Jay House is being carefully restored and managed by the not-for-profit organization, the Jay Heritage Center (JHC) for use as an educational facility hosting Programs in American History, Social Justice, Landscape Conservation and Environmental Stewardship. The house is an official project of the Save America’s Treasures Program and at 170 years old, it is the oldest National Historic Landmark structure in New York State to be using an energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system. It was recently designated as an important site in the Hudson River Valley Heritage Area list because of its architectural significance and best green management practices.

The African American Heritage Trail of Westchester County lists the Jay property as one of 13 significant sites worth visiting. John Jay is well known for advocating emancipation, serving as President of the Manumission Society and establishing the first African Free School.

Visitors to our National Historic Landmark site see and learn about:

-an 8000 year old Paleo Indian viewsshed of Long Island Sound — arrowheads and pottery have been found by archaeologists on this site revealing a rich cultural heritage. See the oldest managed meadow on record in all of New York State, an unparalleled scenic view!

-the land where the only Founding Father native to New York grew up and is buried with his descendants; John Jay learned to ride her in Rye as a boy, developing his lifelong love of nature; the Jay Property was a refuge he returned to time and again to be with parents, his son and grandchildren. It is here that Jay’s character was shaped, and led him to serve in every branch of government including first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and Governor of New York.

-the landmarked Boston Post Road with its mile marker placed by Benjamin Franklin; a stretch of road distinguished by three pre- Civil War architectural gems, Whitby, Lounsberry and the 1838 Jay Mansion, all intact in their landscapes.

-a magnificent 170 year old Greek (and “green”) Revival Building that is an official Save America’s Treasures project and also the oldest NHL in all of New York State with a working geothermal heating and cooling pump system, and the first NHL in Westchester County to use such a sustainable system

-a site on the African American Heritage Trail that was home of one America’s leading families in the fight to abolish slavery; a place where slaves worked and were emancipated; the home of Peter Augustus Jay who was an eloquent advocate for African American suffrage in New York State at the 1821 Convention

Photos: The 1838 Jay Mansion and an Aerial View of Jay Property and Neighboring Nature Sanctuary.