The show fills their newly configured gallery space at the 1907 Carriage House and includes a collection of 90 black and white photos documenting a select cross-section of New York City’s best loved architectural treasures. Continue reading
The show fills their newly configured gallery space at the 1907 Carriage House and includes a collection of 90 black and white photos documenting a select cross-section of New York City’s best loved architectural treasures. Continue reading
Manumission documents like this one issued by a New York slaveholder are rare. In this instance, the signatory freeing a slave known only by the name of “Lewis,” is identified as Richard Hatfield, Jr. Hatfield was the son of a leading lawyer, Richard Hatfield, Sr. (1750 -1813) a delegate to the NY State Convention that ratified the constitution. It is recorded that he inherited land (and presumably slaves) that stretched “from the Scarsdale or “Indian Line of Marked Trees” to, or almost to, the then Road to Rye Neck, (now Old Mamaroneck Road, Gedney Way and Mamaroneck Avenue). His property would have passed to his son, Richard Hatfield, Jr. who was an attorney as well.
Instruments like this one were often recorded in the Libers of Conveyances in the Recorder’s Office of the City of New York, usually at the request of the freed slave as an added protection. Another signature on the paper that merits interest is that of Richard Riker (1773-1842) who served as NY Recorder, prior to and after John Jay’s eldest son, Peter Augustus Jay.
But unlike Jay and Jay’s fellow members of the NY Manumission Society who actively fought to end slave trafficking, Riker is rumored to have been complicit in the kidnapping of freed blacks for purposes of selling them back into slavery. This document helps vividly narrate a chapter in African American history when freedom was not only hard won but also uncertain to last- even elected officials could not be trusted to abide by legal writs.
The document was donated by Carol Ubosi nee Smith of the Purdy, Bell and Potter families who have resided in Westchester County since the 1700s. It was found in the 1980s by Ms. Ubosi’s mother, May Potter Smith, amongst several nineteenth century items in the attic of their family home in Harrison. Although this important story was carefully preserved in a family bible, it is still not known how “Lewis” was connected to the Purdy/Bell family of Harrison. A search for further information and context is ongoing.
Last fall, after contacting JHC president Suzanne Clary for research help about the historic African Cemetery in Rye where her ancestors are buried, Ubosi expressed her interest in making the gift to JHC where it could be made available to area schools and scholars. Ubosi grew up in Mamaroneck and New Rochelle and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She attended Central State University in Ohio and has taught in White Plains and Silver Spring. She is presently working on a book about the genealogy of her family with Alesia McFadden, a historian of African American History. As an educator, Ubosi hopes this manumission document will shed some light on the rich history of African-Americans living in Westchester and inspire others to explore and share their own family heritage
The Jay Heritage Center is equally delighted that this primary source will be shared with the many middle school history classes who regularly come through its doors to learn about African American History in New York and Westchester. “When students ask us, ‘What does manumission mean?’ says Clary, “this remarkable document will tangibly show them one man’s transition from servitude to freedom almost 200 years ago. The mere fact of its existence demonstrates how precious this paper was to its owner and his descendants. For those families who will see it firsthand at our site it will prompt the necessary questions that are central to an ongoing discussion about the evolution of social justice in our country.” The Jay Heritage Center has been a member site of the
In keeping with the legacy of one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers, the John Jay Medal recognizes individuals who demonstrate a selfless spirit of commitment and engagement with their community.
As an early member of the Jay Coalition, Catherine “Kitty” Aresty helped harness the energy of thousands of volunteers and citizens to save the Jay Property when it was threatened by commercial development in the early 1980s. She was one of 5 dynamic women who formed the vanguard for preservation of the site, finally securing a victory in 1992 but her total commitment to seeing the property restored for public use extends more than 30 years including 22 consecutive years on the JHC Board.
Similarly, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel’s career spans more than 40 years. She has been a pioneering champion of preservation and the arts, credited with bringing the first public art to Bryant Park and the first public performance to Central Park. The first Director of Cultural Affairs for New York City, she was the longest term Landmarks Commissioner in the city’s history, spanning four mayoral administrations from 1972 to 1987. Her expertise and advocacy of historic preservation has garnered her countless honors and prestigious appointments from nor fewer than 4 US Presidents. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is the current Vice Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino served as Honorary Co-Chairs of the evening which drew over 170 people from Manhattan, Westchester and Greenwich to the National Historic Landmark site. While the event also marked an important 2 decade milestone for the organization, adding to the festive feeling was the recent announcement of a public private partnership between JHC, New York State Parks and Westchester County to manage and restore the entire 23 acre Jay estate as a historic park and educational resource. The site has been a member of Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail since 2004 and was added to the prestigious Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area following its nomination in 2008 by County Legislator Judy Myers.
JHC President Suzanne Clary commended the men, women and coalition of non-profits that first saved Jay’s home but also emphasized the “new coalition” they are forming with other museums and preservation groups like the NY Preservation League, The Landmarks Conservancy, Audubon NY, the World Monuments Fund and more. Congresswoman Lowey recognized the power of bi-partisan support that continues to guide JHC’s success.
Ken Jenkins, Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators presented a proclamation to both honorees and added his strong words of support for the Jay Heritage Center’s mission to revitalize one of Westchester’s premiere heritage destinations. Steve Otis, former Mayor of Rye brought accolades from Sen. Suzi Oppenhiemer and personally congratulated the two medal awardees on their vision and tenacity- he reminded the audience how dilapidated the Jay site was when first acquired and how miraculous its transformation had been under JHC’s trusted stewardship. Both honorees gave moving remarks and thanks and underscored the continued need to stay “passionate” about preservation.
The theme of the night was Roaring 20s – guests dressed in everything from raccoon coats and spats to flapper dresses and boas made for an evening that was simply “the bees knees!” Proceeds form the event benefit JHC’s programs which benefit schools through Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley region.
Learn more about the Jay Heritage Center at
According to a statement issued to the press the agreement is designed to ensure the preservation of the nationally significant property and serve as a model of cooperative stewardship that can be emulated nationwide. “It will also advance shared goals of New York State, Westchester County and non-profits like JHC to promote heritage tourism by making historic resources more accessible to the public,” the statement said.
“It has been over 20 years since the county, working with New York State, came to the rescue of the Jay property, saving it from demolition,” Astorino said. “Now the county is stepping in again with an innovative public/private partnership to preserve it for future generations in a way that doesn’t fall on taxpayers. In these challenging economic times, these are the kinds of solutions that are essential.”
The property is located adjacent to the county’s Marshlands Conservancy. Westchester County and New York State jointly own 21.5 acres of the site- the Jay Heritage Center owns the other 1.5-acre parcel, which contains the 1838 Jay House, built by Jay’s son on the site where his father grew up.
The new license agreement will transfer oversight for the upkeep of the property and investment in significant capital infrastructures to the Jay Heritage Center, which will raise funds as a private 501(c)3 and also apply for grants. Tax deductible donations from individuals and corporations will be accepted to help restore the historic meadow, the gardens, the apple orchards and rehabilitate historic structures for public educational uses as lecture halls, classical music spaces and art galleries.
At a press conference at the site, Astorino was joined by Rye City Mayor Doug French and Suzanne Clary, president of the Jay Heritage Center (JHC), as well as New York State Parks Deputy Commissioner Tom Alworth to announce the agreement, which must be approved by the county’s Parks Board, the Board of Acquisition and Contract, and the State Comptroller’s Office.
The Jay Property was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 as part of the Boston Post Road Historic District. It was also named to the Westchester County African American Heritage Trail in 2004.
Most recently in 2009, it became 1 of only 100 Congressionally funded sites in the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area based on the importance of its architecture, its landscape and themes of freedom and dignity that its 10,000-year-old history embodies.
“This is an unparalleled opportunity for us to restore one of America’s greatest landscapes and open it to the public at a time when families are looking for places of beauty and history to inform and inspire their daily lives,” said the JHC’s Clary.
Deputy Commissioner Alworth also praised the agreement, saying: “Partnership agreements such as this one have been highly successful in enhancing the quality of parks and historic sites for the visiting public. The Jay Heritage Center has done an impressive job restoring the historic house, and I’m confident they will continue their excellent stewardship of the site. This public-private partnership will ensure the John Jay property remains a valued recreational and cultural resource for Westchester residents and visitors alike.”
The main terms of the agreement are:
· The county and state, as owners, will grant a 10-year license, which is renewable after the initial term, to the Jay Heritage Center for the use of the property. This will give the JHC the ability to raise funds to operate the park and make improvements.
· The county and state will have the right to approve or disapprove any physical alterations to the property.
· The property will continue to be operated and maintained as state and county parkland and will be accessible to the general public. The JHC may establish admission fees, subject to approval by the state and the county consistent with county fee structures.
· JHC will create and pay for a specific maintenance and restoration schedule detailed in the agreement, dealing with landscape, invasive plant removal and restoration of historic structures, among other things.
· The county will continue to police the property.
· The county will no longer spend approximately $25,000 annually to maintain the property, and JHC will be responsible for ongoing maintenance and the capital improvements that the property requires.
· The county will remain responsible for the costs of any environmental remediation that may be required on the property for conditions that existed prior to the license agreement. Any environmental remediation required as a result of JHC’s restoration work will be the responsibility of JHC.
Photo:Top Row: JHC Board members Emma Hanratty, Jim Kelsey (JHC Vice President,) Lauren Lambert, Michael Kovner (JHC Vice President)- Bill Mooney, Senior Assistant to County Executive, Joe Sack ,Rye City Council
Second Row: Deputy County Executive, Kevin Plunkett, Frank Sanchis, World Monuments Fund and JHC Advisory Board, JHC Board member Cathy Rosenstock, Julie Killian, Rye City Council and Tom O’Handley, Audubon NY
Third Row: JHC Board Member Charlene Laughlin, Anne Van Ingen, Preservation League of NY State, Patricia Mulqueen, Con Edison Community Relations Westchester, JHC Founder, Kitty Aresty, Steve Otis, former Mayor of Rye
Front Row: Tom Alworth, New York State Parks Deputy Commissioner of Natural Resources, Suzanne Clary, JHC President and Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive.
Alan Taylor, professor of history at the University of California, Davis, and the Robert C. Ritchie Distinguished Fellow, will discuss how their help proved essential to the British coastal raids, particularly the capture of Washington, D.C. Taylor’s previous books include William Cooper’s Town (Knopf, 1996), which won the Bancroft and Pulitzer prizes for American history. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies (Knopf, 2010), was called “the most illuminating and original history of the conflict ever written.” Pulitzer-winning historian Gordon Wood, writing in The New York Review of Books, called it “remarkable and deeply researched,” adding, “Taylor masterfully captures the strangeness of this war.” Copies of Taylor’s books will be available for purchase and signing. Refreshments will be served.
The event, which is part of Jay Heritage Center’s 2012 Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, September 6, 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, at at the 1907 Van Norden Carriage House, Jay Heritage Center, 210 Boston Post Road, in Rye, Westchester County, NY.
The Annual Meeting will also include the President’s Report, the re-election of Trustees for the Class of 2015 (Emma Hanratty, Michael A. Kovner, and Thomas R. Mercein) and the Election of Trustees of the Class of 2015 (Samuel W. Croll III, Lauren Lambert, and Cathy Rosenstock).
Those who are unable to attend can sign and mail a proxy, or submit a proxy by e-mail. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The event was organized by JHC’s Young Preservationists, a group of parents committed to the adaptive reuse of John Jay’s landmark home as a community learning center for children and adults, a place furnished with lively ideas and people, not just furniture. The fresh vision of co-presidents, Emma Hanratty and Caroline Wallach had great resonance as over 1200 people showed up to applaud their efforts while munching on crisp autumn apples and sipping cider. The weather held as parents and kids painted pumpkins and ran 3 legged races in the old Jay meadow- the property thrummed with traditional folk tunes like Oh Susannah provided by the duo Cracked Walnuts. Nate the jackstock donkey was back courtesy of Tilly Foster Farm and reminded visitors that the Jay estate was once itself a working farm with plentiful crops and gardens. Farmer’s market offerings of pumpkin muffins and homemade jams were on hand thanks to Meredith’s Bread from Kingston while Cocoa out of neighboring Larchmont satisfied sweet cravings with artisanal chocolates and brownies. The place was filled with butterflies – both the winged wildlife that naturally adorns the landscape as well as vivid butterfly painted faces and balloon animals to take home courtesy of James Daniels.
Grownups had plenty to see too as veteran JHC archaeologist, Dr. Eugene Boesch, displayed the Paleo Indian and archaic woodland artifacts he has recovered from the grounds of this national treasure including a 4000 year old projectile point. Bruce Macdonald of Ashwood Restoration opened up his preservation workshop and explained the challenges involved in recreating mahogany spindles for the mansion’s 19th century staircase. At the 1907 Carriage House, families saw a sustainable dollhouse and learned that their footprints matter in a power point presentation on invasive trees and plants threatening New York State habitats. But many parents and grandparents were content to just sit in wicker rockers on the veranda to watch their children play and drink in the unequalled view of New York State’s oldest man-managed meadow a vista famously dubbed “a time funnel” to the past.
The event was part of the Hudson River Valley Ramble weekend which celebrates American heritage in New York State. It also coincided with President Obama’s call to service for National Public Lands, encouraging volunteers all over America to get more involved in the parks they love like the Jay Property.
Photo: Jack Lundin sports Union blue like many of John Jay’s descendants did during the Civil War.
The artist of the painting, New Yorker Daniel Huntington (1816 – 1906), trained with Jay family friends and esteemed colleagues like John Trumbull (who accompanied Jay as his secretary to Europe during treaty negotiations but also achieved renown as a painter, most notably for his grand scale Declaration of Independence now at the Capitol Rotunda) and Samuel F. B. Morse (whose successful career as an artist preceded his renown as an inventor and earned him the nickname of “America’s Da Vinci.”) Under the tutelage of men like these, Huntington rose to prominence both during and after the Civil War. He was a member of the National Academy of Design for most of his life and acted as its President for 22 years- he was also Vice-President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 33 years and helped that institution expand and grow in stature.
Winter hours for the Jay Heritage Center are Tuesday through Friday, 10am – 5pm and by appointment. Please call (914) 698-9275 or contact JHC Program Director, Heather Craane at email@example.com to schedule group or school tours. The Jay Heritage Center’s Exhibit commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, “The Jays and the Abolition of Slavery: From Manumission to Emancipation” will open in May 2011.
John Jay’s home in Rye is a National Historic Landmark and a designated site of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area selected for its themes of Environment, Landscape and Gardens, Architecture and Freedom and Dignity. It is one of 13 sites on Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail.
Illustrations: Above, “The Republican Court” by Daniel Huntington (1861, Brooklyn Museum of Art). John Jay is depicted in the crimson robe on the far left and Sarah Livingston Jay is opposite him in white in the right foreground. An engraving based on this painting was recently donated to the Jay Heritage Center. Middle, “Alice Jay” by Daniel Huntington- Below, an 1886 photograph of the Jay Drawing Room. Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Jay is on the left of the mirror and Asher Durand’s portrait of Jay’s eldest son Peter is on the right.
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.
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.
Archaeologist Dr. Eugene Boesch has been researching the Jay Property since 2006 conducting documentary research and archaeological investigations which uncovered evidence for the 18th century Jay home known as “The Locusts” and earlier Native American occupations on the property dating back at least 4,000 years.
This special lecture is endowed in memory of the late Prof. Bruce Byland a member of the faculty of Lehman College of the City University of New York. In the New York area he worked with the Metropolitan Forensic Anthropology Team in the identification of the remains of Pierre Toussaint, since Beatified by the Catholic Church, and in the excavation of New York’s colonial African Cemetery. He was the catalyst for a multi-year archaeological study of the Boston Post Road Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, with the Jay Heritage Center. The finds from this excavation are being prepared for future exhibit at the Jay site.
The event is free for Jay Heritage Center members- $5 for non-members.