The Garden Restoration Project is a Go!

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With a vision of historically accurate beauty in mind and the funds needed now in hand (with thanks to our donors as well as a New York State grant), the Jay Heritage Center sat down with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and explored potential plans for our soon-to-be restored gardens. The architects proposed three different schemes, each with different designs for each of the three “rooms” or gardens. The proposals were approached as an “À la carte” menu, in which the Jay Heritage Center would be able to merge designs from each of the proposals in order to mold the vision in mind.

Landscape architects meet with JHC to discuss designs for the garden restoration project!

Aiming to retain the simple yet elegant designs of the original gardens, JHC pursued a landscape that would also be easy to maintain. New flowers and trees will be selected and planted that will hopefully not require an extreme amount of maintenance. Another top priority is the ability for the grounds to be ADA accessible, so that all may come and appreciate the natural artistry of the gardens and participate in educational programs.

The hope is that the gardens can serve as a space for educational lectures, activities, and events. Therefore, the gardens will serve a variety of purposes. People can come for a leisurely stroll, a school program, or a scheduled event. Ideally, the gardens will include plenty of space for people to gather as well as an amphitheater to view speakers or performers. One thing is certain; the gardens will provide plenty of new, excellent opportunities to get in touch with history and culture.

Many different ideas were investigated and are still being reviewed. The Jay Heritage Center will meet again with the landscape architects in mid-August to continue establishing the blueprints. Nothing is set in stone yet, so the Jay Heritage Center will continue to explore different possibilities. The main priority is to create gardens that will embody the history of the Jay property as well as aesthetically appeal to the masses. It is an exciting time at the Jay Heritage Center amidst the planning, and we are grateful to all who helped gather the necessary funds to embark on this grand project. We can’t wait to the share what we accomplish with the general public!

Our archived photos, such as this one, helped to inspire our plans for the new gardens.

Our archived photos, such as this one, helped to inspire our plans for the new gardens.

By Taylor Maurer

The Iceman Cometh: An Interview with Bruce MacDonald

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BY LANDY ERLICK

Bruce MacDonald is the President of Ashwood Restoration.  He has worked with many notable historic site professionals, architects, and preservationists, including craftsmen at Historic Hudson Valley, Philip Johnson, Toshio Odate, Stuart Elliot, members the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and more.  He is currently leading the restoration of structures at the Jay Estate which most recently include a 100+ year old Ice House.  Here is his take on preservation from the perspective of a student, through his longtime partnership with the Jay Heritage Center, and beyond.

How did you find yourself at Jay Heritage Center?
 
Well that was in 1992. I had met Dee Dee Paschal, who was one of the five women who helped save the [Jay Estate], back maybe four years earlier at a New York State preservation conference. She was with Karen Kennedy, a preservation advocate within the County of Westchester Planning Department and [she] was the key to the fight, helping guide and inform the Jay Coalition.  So Karen introduced me to Dee Dee.  It was a two minute thing describing the site. Dee Dee said “We’ll call you when we get the site.” So I said “Thank you very much” and moved on. I was working on a project in White Plains in August when my phone rang. [Dee Dee] said, “The deal has gone through and we need you.” So that was the beginning.  We started work doing emergency repairs. Someone had torn a third of the copper roof off the mansion. And the next day it was starting to rain so we had to scramble.
Bruce and workshop tours

Bruce MacDonald in his workshop

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Ask an Archaeologist

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BY LANDY ERLICK 

Dr. Eugene Boesch is an archaeology professor and anthropologist.  He specializes in PaleoIndian history and has conducted several digs here at the Jay Heritage Center. Here are his thoughts on his experiences, discoveries, and craftsmanship in Rye, across the country, and around the globe.

How were you drawn to this field?

I was always drawn to history, and the people of the past.  All of it was of interest, thinking how things happened. On the larger or traditional historic level but also on the small scale, individual family or community level.  Picking up artifacts that may not have been touched for hundreds or thousands of years is fun. There were some historic foundations near my house growing up that I played around which was fun.  No a day goes by for the last 40 years, that I have not thought about something related to the past. It’s a great escape.

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Lithograph Map of Rye, David Rumsey Collection

Is [Rye] a prime area to find artifacts? 

Yes, there are still many sites in the area, mostly historic sites. [There are] Native American sites too but those are more rare. However, more and more sites are gone each year due mainly to development.  Usually, people would not realize what is a site in this area. Our historic time depth is so short and finding and recognizing Native American sites so difficult. People tend to think of archaeological sites as either the pyramids or dinosaur  bones  – sometimes I also get the question if I find gold and other treasures when I excavate. It says more about their hopes and likes than what the reality usually is.

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200 Years Later: Siblings & Soirées

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BY LANDY ERLICK

While the Jay family’s ancestral home in Rye was not deeded to Peter Augustus Jay until September of 1822, Peter and his family were already spending many of their summers at the country residence by 1814.  We have considerable insight into their household activities through the account book of Peter’s wife, Mary Rutherfurd. (To learn more about the ledger, see: https://jaycenter.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/200-years-later-invoices-icehouses/)

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Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson Jay

Mary often hosted dinner parties and events both at home in New York City and here in Rye. Her entries detail numerous market purchases for the guests – items range from gooseberries to macaroons to calve’s head. In a letter to her first cousin, Mary seems eager to entertain her relatives, writing that she “could make [her aunt’s] time pass very agreeably for a fortnight at least” (Memorials of Peter A. Jay, 117).

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Restoration Approaches the Final Threshold

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BY LANDY ERLICK

The Jay Ice House restoration process is well under way (to catch up, see The 3 R’s: Restoration, Recovery, Revival). Last week, the doors were spliced, painted with a base coat, and safeguarded with borate crystals.  Now, the connecting hasps have been added – tinted bright red with primer – and the wood is all pieced together.

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Almost finished door

The doors will soon make their way out of the workshop and onto their rightful hinges! The task is not as simple as just putting them in place, though.  The wooden casement into which the doors fit has also aged and rotted.  It had been rebuilt and recut.  The ornate, aged stone wall that surrounds this structure actually creates quite an intricate obstacle.

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This Week in History: Controversy in the Court

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BY LANDY ERLICK

John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Appointed by George Washington, Jay held the office from October 19, 1789 to June 29, 1795.  The Chief Justice was succeeded by John Rutledge when he traded his robes to become Governor of New York.

John Rutledge

John Rutledge

Less than one month after his appointment, Rutledge began to lose many of his supporters.  On July 16, 1795, he delivered an address criticizing John Jay’s own eponymous treaty, the Jay Treaty.  Also known as the “Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between His Britannic Majesty and The United States of America,” the Jay Treaty helped resolve the tension lingering after the American Revolution and reinstate an amicable trading relationship between America and Great Britain.

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The 3 R’s: Restoration, Recovery, Revival

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BY LANDY ERLICK

The ice house here at the Jay Heritage Center is over one hundred and twenty years old.  While the structure itself may date back to around 1890, many of the surrounding stone walls are actually rooted in the 1820s or earlier.  These distinctive stone walls contributed significantly to the declaration of the Boston Post Road as a National Historic Landmark in 1993.

Archived Photo of the Ice House

Archived Photo of the Ice House

Unfortunately, before the birth of the Jay Coalition and the Jay Heritage Center, some parts of the property were left to weather without proper preservation measures.  This was the case with the Jay Ice House, which witnessed fairly substantial corrosion.  The decay, primarily in the two doors, was foremost caused by rainfall.

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200 Years Later: Invoices & Icehouses

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BY LANDY ERLICK

Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson married Peter Augustus Jay, son of John Jay, in 1807. By 1814, the pair was splitting their summertime between a home in New York City and “The Locusts” in Rye. “The Locusts”  served as a country residence for the Jay family. The Jay Heritage Center and the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House are located on the original spot of the home. We are fortunate enough to have the account book of Mary Rutherfurd and Peter Augustus Jay from 1814 – 1815. The book documents the wage costs, fuel payments, marketing, groceries, sundries, and personal and seasonal expenditures of the family.

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Schooling Report, 1814

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