Tag Archives: Westchester County

July 4th Jamboree at John Hay Homestead


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On Monday, July 4, John Jay Homestead State Historic Site in Katonah, N.Y. will hold special programs in celebration of America’s 235th birthday.

The festivities will begin at 11:00 a.m. with The American Colonials Fife and Drum Band playing Yankee Doodle and other patriotic songs, followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence from the front porch of the Jay home. This part of the program will conclude with visitors, young and old, getting an opportunity to sign a copy of the Declaration themselves. The fife and drum concert and reading will be given free of charge.

At noon, tours of the first floor period rooms of John Jay’s house will become available for $5.00 for adults, seniors, and students. Children aged twelve and under, and members of the Friends of John Jay Homestead, can tour the house free. Admission tickets will be sold until 1:30; the historic house will close at 2:00 p.m.

A new part of the program will also begin at noon and continue until 4:00, a July 4th Jamboree, sponsored by the Bedford-Armonk Rotary Club. The Jamboree is a charity event that will take place near the Jay Homestead barnyard, and will include colonial games for kids, wagon rides, a patriotic pet parade and contest, a beekeeper, a blacksmith, a SPCA pet adoption station, live music, and food. Wristbands needed for participation in these activities will cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. The proceeds will benefit John Jay Homestead, the SPCA of Westchester County, and other local community organizations. For more information about the Jamboree, log onto www.july4jamboree.com.

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

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.

House Votes to Return Tripoli Vets Bodies


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Last week the United States House of Representatives passed a bill including an amendment authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, (R-MI), and Frank LoBiondo, (R-NJ), that would require the Department of Defense to repatriate the remains of 13 US Navy commandos buried in two mass graves in Tripoli, Libya since 1804.

The amendment – which would repatriate, identify and honor the sailors with a military funeral – was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). After passing the full House, the NDAA now heads to the US Senate for consideration.

“My father, my father’s father, and his father’s father have wanted the remains of Master Commandant Richard Somers returned home, and we’ve worked for it since he and the men of the USS Intrepid were lost in Libya in 1804,” said Dean Somers of Somers Point, New Jersey. “This is long, long overdue, and it wasn’t until we met recently with Rep. Frank Lobiondo and Chairman Rogers when we thought it was finally possible.”

Somers and his crew were lost on an ill-fated mission to destroy Tripoli’s naval fleet during the Barbary Wars of the early 19th century. When their bodies of America’s first Navy commandos washed up on the beach in Tripoli, the bashaw – the king of the pirates – invited a pack of dogs to devour them as American prisoners of war looked on. The 13 remain buried today jumbled together in two Libyan graves. One of those graves is unmarked and underfoot on Green Square, the site of decades of anti-America rallies.

On September 4th 1804, Somers was in command of fire ship Intrepid which had been recently seized from its Tripolean crew, was prepared as a “floating volcano” and readied to be sailed into Tripoli harbor and blown up in the midst of the enemy fleet under the walls of the city. She exploded prematurely, while entering the harbor killing Somers and his entire crew of volunteers.

Since 1804, there have been six ships of the US Navy that have been named USS Somers in his honor. In 2004, the state assembly in New Jersey passed two resolutions calling for the return of the sailor’s remains. The town of Somers, New York, located in Westchester County is named in his honor.

The City of Somers Point, named after the Master Commandant’s family and still their residence, has worked on repatriation for decades. Additionally, the descendants of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wish for the return of the remains of his uncle, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, who served as second in command on the fire ship Intrepid when it was lost during the Barbary Wars. Born shortly after the failed mission, the legendary poet was named after his heroic uncle.

Illustration: Engraving, “Blowing Up of the Fire Ship Intrepid commanded by Capt. Somers in the Harbour of Tripoli on the night of 4th Sepr. 1804.”

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.

Boscobel Offers Free Westchester County Day


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On Sunday, May 1, simply show proof of your Westchester residency and admission to Boscobel House & Gardens is free. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know one of the Hudson Valley’s most interesting historic sites.

Set upon 68 acres of landscaped grounds, Boscobel House contains a collection of furniture and decorative arts from the Federal period. Collections include rare china and glassware, antique books and fine art, including a Benjamin West painting. An exhibition about the rescue and restoration of Boscobel may also be seen in the Visitors Center at the Carriage House. Continue reading

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.

Two Short Films Celebrate IBM’s Centennial


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The international corporation IBM, based in Armonk, Westchester County, is celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary this year. The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, following a merger of the Computer Scale Company of America and the International Time Recording Company with the Tabulating Machine Company. The conglomerate adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924, a name the company had used in Canada.

A recently produced video to celebrate their centennial anniversary, 100×100, tells IBM’s history through the eyes of 100 different individuals beginning with a 100-year-old and ending with a newborn baby. The video has been posted to YouTube.

A second IBM film was directed by famed documentation Errol Morris. The 30-minute documentary, They Were There was scored by Philip Glass and chronicles many of the influential people involved at IBM throughout its history.

Illustration: The original IBM Logo. Courtesy Wikipedia.

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.

Barnabas McHenry’s Greater Hudson Heritage Award


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The Board of Trustees of Greater Hudson Heritage Network (GHHN) will confer special regional recognition to Barnabas (Barney) McHenry through presentation of the Greater Hudson Cultural Heritage Award on October 2, preceding a Historic Site Futures Forum at Bear Mountain, New York.

For 40 years Barney McHenry has worked to protect the Hudson River Valley, its heritage, culture and landscapes. As counsel to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of Reader’s Digest, he was the principal architect of the Wallace Funds, which have contributed to the arts, education, humanities and the environment throughout the Hudson River Valley.

Barney McHenry demonstrates his commitment to the region as Chair of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council, Co-Chair of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, while offering valued trustee-leadership to regional historic sites through his service on the boards of Friends of the Hudson Valley and the Open Space Institute, and as Chairman of Boscobel.

A long time patron of museums throughout the Greater Hudson Heritage Network, Mr. McHenry has served on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York Commission on the Restoration of the Capital and the Empire State Plaza Art Commission.

“Greater Hudson’s vision of ‘communities that value the exploration and preservation of their heritage and cultures, and are empowered to save and interpret them to future generations,’ has been furthered by the work of Barney McHenry,” affirmed Dr. Jacquetta Haley, President of the GHHN Board.

Greater Hudson Heritage Network (formerly Lower Hudson Conference of Historical Agencies & Museums), is a museum service organization that has grown over 30 years to encompass an area and cultural constituency from the Battery to Albany- engaging and informing staff, consultants and trustees of cultural heritage organizations as a catalyst to strengthen professional capacity, define and meet mission, and connect them through best practices in stewardship.

Greater Hudson’s Annual Meeting and Historic Site Futures Forum will take place on Friday, October 2, 2009 at Overlook Lodge, Bear Mountain, NY from 10am – 3pm.

The Hon. Richard Brodsky, NYS Assemblyman, 92nd District (Westchester) will address an audience of museum and historic site professionals on issues of “Smart Stewardship,” as he introduces the morning Historic Site Futures Forum and panel speakers.

The Cultural Heritage Award presentation and Futures Forum will be followed by a buffet luncheon, election of GHHN trustees, and the afternoon presentation of 14 Awards Towards Excellence for organizations and projects selected from submitted nominations by a peer jury, chaired by Greater Hudson trustee Jennifer Plick.

The Greater Hudson Heritage Network’s Awards Towards Excellence program seeks to recognize and commend exceptional efforts among GHHN members. Awards are made to projects and organizations that exemplify creativity and professional vision resulting in a contribution to the preservation and interpretation of the historic scene, material culture and diversity of the Greater Hudson region- from the Battery to Albany.

2009 Awards Towards Excellence are presented to:

BOSCOBEL HOUSE & GARDENS, Garrison, NY (Putnam) for the exhibition, Home on the Hudson: Women and Men Painting Landscapes, 1825-1875. This award is in recognition of the continued effort to explore the works of Hudson River School painters particularly those done by women artists and for incorporating the research of doctoral students in the exhibit catalog.

CLARKSTOWN TOWN CLERK, DAVID CARLUCCI, New City, NY (Rockland) for the preservation of the Town of Clarkstown’s historical records. This award is in recognition of the Town Clerk’s program to preserve, digitize and make accessible over 250 years of town records that, in many cases, are too fragile to be handled.

CONSTITUTION ISLAND ASSOCIATION, INC., West Point, NY (Orange) for the film, “Constitution Island: American Landmark.” This award is in recognition of the endeavor to raise awareness of the historic and cultural significance of the site and its use as an educational tool.

SAMUEL DORSKY MUSEUM OF ART, New Paltz, NY (Ulster) and NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY, New York (NY) for the exhibition and publication, The Hudson River to Niagara Falls: 19th Century American Landscape Paintings from the New-York Historical Society. This award is in recognition of a collaboration that re-interprets the landscape collections of the New-York Historical Society by exploring the importance of the region as a cultural site in the 19th century through the works of Hudson River School artists.

HISTORIC HUGUENOT STREET, New Paltz, NY (Ulster) for the exhibition Before Hudson: 8,000 Years of Native American History and Culture. This award is in recognition of the exhibit and public programming that advances regional history by exploring the history of the native inhabitants of the area using archaeological findings.

KATHLEEN EAGAN JOHNSON, Historic Hudson Valley, Tarrytown, NY (Westchester) for the publication, The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: New York’s River Festival and the Making of a Metropolis, co-published by Fordham University Press and Historic Hudson Valley. This award is in recognition of the extensive research and in-depth study of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909 and its impact on New York City.

LYNDHURST and WESTCHESTER COUNTY, Tarrytown, NY (Westchester) for the public program and community collaboration, Hudson River Fest: A Search for the Past, Present, and Future. This award is in recognition of a collaborative program that celebrated Westchester’s historic ties to the river and land, and explored the respectful stewardship of these important but fragile resources.

MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE – A LIVING MEMORIAL TO THE HOLOCAUST, New York (NY) for the creation of an on-line collection resource. This award is in recognition of an innovative program that invites the public to browse artifacts in a dynamic and user-friendly environment. The online Collection offers information unavailable in the Museum.

NEVERSINK VALLEY AREA MUSUEM, Cuddebackville, NY (Orange) for the exhibit, “The Star is Born: A History of the Movie Star in America from Florence Lawrence and Valentino to Heath Ledger” and a program on women in early films. This award is in recognition of new audience-driven local history programming.

NEW CASTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY and EAGLE SCOUT MICHAEL MARTINEZ, New Castle, NY (Westchester) for documentation of the Chappaqua Friends’ Graveyard. This award is in recognition of the extensive research, detailed documentation and creation of a searchable database for over 1,000 markers in the local graveyard dating back to 1745.

THE OLANA PARTNERSHIP and NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF PARKS, RECREATION, AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION, Hudson, NY (Columbia) for a new gallery, inaugural exhibit, “Glories of the Hudson: Frederic Edwin Church’s Views from Olana” and its exhibition catalog. This award is in recognition of a public-private effort to broaden the scope of the historic house museum, and a valuable collaborative marketing concept.

THE KNICKERBOCKER ICE FESTIVAL OF 2009: TIMOTHY ENGLERT, CO-FOUNDER & PROJECT DIRECTOR, ROBERT PATALANO, CO-FOUNDER & ICE SCULPTOR, CHRISTIAN NIELSEN, ROCKLAND LAKE STATE PARK SUPERINTENDENT, MARIA RODD, 2009 EVENT PLANNER, ROSEMARIE MONACO, 2009 PR/MARKETING DIRECTOR, GRETCHEN WEERHEIM, 2009 HISTORIC EDUCATION DIRECTOR & HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ROCKLAND COUNTY DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, HEATHER DUKE, ROCKLAND COUNTY DIRECTOR OF TOURISM This award recognizes the collaborative efforts of a dedicated group of professionals to create and excite the public about local history.

LAKEVILLE-IRONWORKS EDUCATIONAL TRAIL and MATTHEW SHOOK, Sterling Forest, Tuxedo, NY (Orange) This award is in recognition Matthew Shook’s dedication, leadership and collaborative skills in bringing together the PIPC, State Historic Preservation Office, NY/NJ Trail Conference, and Rutgers University to preserve, interpret and make accessible to the public a neglected historical resource.

PUTNAM COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY & FOUNDRY SCHOOL MUSEUM, DR. TRUDIE GRACE and DAVID DEARINGER, Cold Spring, NY (Putnam) for the exhibition catalog accompanying the exhibition, George Pope Morris: Defining American Culture. This award is in recognition of the extensive, scholarly research undertaken into the life of George Pope Morris of Cold Spring, and his contribution to 19th century American publishing, music and poetry.

For registration information about Greater Hudson Heritage Network’s October 2, 2009
Annual Meeting, Futures Forum, and Awards presentations at Overlook Lodge, Bear Mountain, please see: www.greaterhudson.org, or contact GHHN: 914.592.6726; info@greaterhudson.org.

An Architecture Kids Camp at Jay Heritage Center


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From architraves to anthemia, children age eight to eleven can immerse themselves in the world of New York State’s varied architecture during an architecture camp for kids at the Jay Heritage Center all next week (Mon. August 17 to Fri., August 21, 9:30 am to 1:00 pm). The campers will discover the fundamentals of architecture by studying the Greek Revival 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House, along with the two other 19th-century mansions, which are part of the Boston Post Road Historic District. Kids can learn how Hudson Valley architects like Minard Lafever and AJ Davis championed inspirational designs that still capture our imagination.

With guidance from professionals, each camper will then design and construct their own dream house or a building essential for a city, such as a school or fire department. After learning about the basic principles of zoning, they will organize their buildings on a giant map of the Boston Post Road. Cardboard boxes and other recycled materials are used to create the colorful, bustling mini city. This year the campers will also learn about green building and how historic structures can be environmentally sustainable.

The cost is $200 per camper. The Jay Heritage Center is located at 210 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY 10580. Limited enrollment. For further information call 914-698-9275 or e-mail jayhc@earthlink.net.

Photo: The Greek Revival Architecture exhibit in the 1907 Carriage House at the Jay Heritage Center, Rye. NY.

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.

Beacons To Commemorate British Departure


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The Hudson Valley Press Online is reporting on plans to mark the 225th anniversary of the evacuation of British troops on November 25, 2008 by lighting a series of five local beacons that “replicate the original signal locations used by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.” The plan is a project of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, Scenic Hudson, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Palisades Parks Conservancy, and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission:

These vital systems summoned the militia in both New York and in neighboring New Jersey and warned residents of the approaching British Redcoats. The types of beacons varied from tar barrels on top of poles, to pyramids, to wooden towers filled with dried grass or hay that could be ignited. The beacons enabled quick and effective communication with troops throughout the lower Hudson River Valley.

Instead of lighting fires, Palisades, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Scenic Hudson will create a symbolic Xenon light display that will light up Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area from Bear Mountain State Park to Beacon. This project is also part of the larger interstate effort with national heritage area partners in New Jersey, the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area. Six additional Beacons will be lit in New Jersey. The total project area will stretch from Princeton, NJ to Beacon, NY.

The five locations will include:

Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, NY
Storm King Mountain State Park, Cornwall, NY
Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, Newburgh, NY
Scenic Hudson’s Mount Beacon, Beacon, NY
Scenic Hudson’s Spy Rock (Snake Hill), New Windsor, NY

While we’re at it, here is a story about Saturday’s relighting of the lamp on top of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. It has been for 87 years and commemorates those who died in the British Prison ships in New York Harbor during the American Revolution.