More Good News for the Historic Jay Estate
In December 2014, the Jay Heritage Center (JHC) was awarded a $500,000 grant to help restore 1.5 acres of historic gardens at the landmark Jay Estate in Rye, New York. JHC was one of the few historic sites in New York State to be awarded the maximum amount of funding in the fourth round of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) grant process, thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP).
TCLF had placed the estate on its Landslide list in 2010, becoming the first national organization to recognize and highlight its poor condition. The ancestral home of John Jay, one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, had declined dramatically, and its three-quarter-mile-long meadow, cultivated for thousands of years, was threatened by neglect and the sanctioned growth of invasive plants.
The recent REDC grant came in the wake of a landmark public-private partnership, approved in 2013, among NYSOPRHP, Westchester County Parks, and the JHC. As part of the 2013 agreement, the stewardship of the 23-acre Jay Estate falls to the non-profit JHC, which has plans to transform the park into a premier educational and heritage-tourism destination. The JHC has now raised over $1.3 million to help reclaim underutilized green spaces for public use.
Nelson Byrd Woltz, Landscape Architects have been selected to rehabilitate the site. The work will include restoring stone walls dating to 1822, and reintroducing a 100-foot-long rose and grape arbor. The overgrown 'garden rooms' will be transformed into accessible outdoor classrooms for the hands-on study of horticulture, American history, social justice, archaeology, and much more. JHC President Suzanne Clary reaffirmed the Center’s goal: “We hope the revitalization of these gardens will inspire young people to understand, preserve and protect our shared heritage, natural and man-made. Here we will train the future historians, civic advocates and stewards of our fragile cultural and environmental resources.” The full list of awardees can be viewed here.