1838 Peter Augustus Jay House

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1838 Peter Augustus Jay House
The Jay Estate in Rye, NY
Location Rye, New York
Built 1838 (1838)
Architect Edwin Bishop with influences by Minard Lafever, Asher Benjamin and Chester Hills
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference #


Sign installed by New York State in 2014 to recognize historical significance of Jay family home in Rye and denote as member site of Civil Rights itinerary
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 29, 1982[1]
Designated NHLDCP August 30, 1993[2]

The 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House and surrounding Jay Estate form the centerpiece of the Boston Post Road Historic District of Rye, New York.[3] This historic district includes the surviving remnant of the 400-acre (1.6 km2) Jay estate where New York State's only native born Founding Father,[4] John Jay, (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) grew up as a boy. He returned to his parents' home throughout his illustrious career to be with his family. He inherited the property outright in 1813 and conveyed it 9 years later in 1822 to his eldest son Peter Augustus Jay.

John Jay, the author of five of The Federalist Papers, was the only Founding Father to serve in every branch of US government including roles as President of the Continental Congress, U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Minister to Spain, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and two term Governor of New York.

Portrait of John Jay painted by Gilbert Stuart

Location and significance[edit]

The Jay Estate is located on the south side of the Boston Post Road (US 1) in Rye, New York and has a 3/4 mile view of Milton Harbor and Long Island Sound. It is bounded by a stone wall with mile marker “24” out of 230, designated in 1763 by Benjamin Franklin, set into its perimeter. Within it lies the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House built by John Jay's eldest son, Peter Augustus Jay, on the site of his father's childhood home, "The Locusts".

"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. -- Harry Blackmun, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court."[5]

Portrait of Peter Augustus Jay painted by John Wesley Jarvis

The Jay mansion has been recognized as an outstandingly pure example of Greek Revival architecture.

"The [1838] Peter Jay House...is undeniably a major architectural landmark. This monumental Greek Revival style house has been generally recognized as one of the most important buildings of its type in the country. Its symmetrical massing, bold scale, and grandly austere detail are an extraordinary symbol of the increasing wealth and power of America during the decade of the 1830s. The house also reflects the importance of the Jay family in a maturing nation."

-- Andrew Dolkart, architectural historian."

It is one of three contiguous, pre-Civil War structures extant in their original landscapes on Boston Post Road. The veranda of the house overlooks a 10,000+ year old Paleo-Indian archaeological site [6] and the oldest man-managed meadow on record in New York State.

The other two antebellum buildings are within walking distance of the PAJ House, and each has its own significant architectural pedigree: they are the Gothic Revival Whitby Castle (1852–54), designed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis, and Lounsberry (1838), which notably has a library designed by Delano & Aldrich. A. J. Davis also built a cottage on the Jay Property in 1849, but it was taken down in the 1950s.

Completing the landmark district are

  • Jay Family Cemetery (3 acres-privately owned) and
  • Marshlands Conservancy (137 acres-owned by Westchester County).

The site was declared a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1993.,[2][7] Out of more than 80,000 places on the National Register, only about 2,430 are NHLs.

Historic preservation[edit]

The Jay Heritage Center (JHC)[8] is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1990 and chartered by the New York State Board of Regents to act as stewards of the 23 acre Jay Property and educate the public about this place and its heritage. The JHC manages the site as an educational center with programs in American History, Architecture, Landscape Conservation and Environmental Stewardship. In August 2013, JHC was awarded stewardship of the 23 acre Jay Estate by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Westchester County Parks through a public-private partnership agreement. [9] This agreement allows JHC to stabilize and rehabilitate culturally significant landscape features at the site including the 1822 stone ha-ha walls, historic sunken gardens, meadow, orchard, and elm tree allee. [10] JHC is also overseeing restoration and rehabiliation of several historic buildings including:

  • 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House. The building is an official Save America's Treasures project. This residence was built by Edwin Bishop pursuant to an 1836 contract with Peter Augustus Jay. Stylistic elements appear to have been influenced by architectural pattern books by Minard Lafever, Asher Benjamin and Chester Hills.,[7] p. 13. Later changes to the house may have been made by architects Barney & Chapman. Gardens established by the Jay family were later augmented by the landscape firm of Brinley & Holbrook.

In November 2008, the PAJ House became the oldest National Historic Landmark structure in New York State to be equipped with an energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system. [11] The Jay Estate was designated a member site of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (HRVNHA) [12] in January 2009, based on its architectural and historic significance as well as green management practices and design efforts in sustainability. The HRVNHA is a prestigious designation by the National Parks System (NPS).

  • 1907 Van Norden Carriage House. This structure and the Zebra Barn (1907) on the Jay Estate were both designed by the architect Frank A. Rooke, who designed Claremont Riding Academy and the Sheffield Farms dairy plant in Manhattan. Commissioned by the later residents Warner and Grace Talcott Van Norden, the Classical Revival, yellow carriage house has its original, 4-faced Seth Thomas clock and three pairs of mahogany pocket doors.

African-American Heritage Trail and NY State Path Through History[edit]

John Jay is well known for advocating emancipation, serving as the first President of the New York Manumission Society, and establishing the first African Free School. His son Peter Augustus Jay also served as President of the Manumission Society, continuing his work. The family's home has been designated one of 13 sites on the Westchester County African-American Heritage Trail. [13] In 2013, it was added to New York State's Path Through History as an important site that explores themes and the evolution of Civil Rights. [14] It is open to schools and to the public.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Boston Post Road Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-14. 
  3. ^ Herbert Alan Johnson, "John Jay 1745-1829" (The University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, 3d edition, Revised in 1995 to Commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of John Jay, Born December 12, 1745, p.57.)
  4. ^ Richard B. Morris, Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries (New York: Harper & Row, 1973)
  5. ^ Justice Harry A. Blackmun, "John Jay and the Federalist Papers," Pace Law Review, 1988
  6. ^ Pfeiffer p. 2
  7. ^ a b Karen Kennedy and Austin O'Brien (December 12, 1986). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Boston Post Road Historic District" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 33 photos, exteriors and interiors, from 1979-1983. PDF (7.94 MB)
  8. ^ Official Site-Jay Heritage Center, http://jaycenter.org
  9. ^ Westchester County New York, ACT-2012-173, Adopted Nov 26, 2012, 7:00 PM, III.13, Jay Property Estate Restoration/Maintenance. http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=2220&MediaPosition=&ID=5629&CssClass=
  10. ^ Cary, Bill, "Jay Gardens in Rye to Get $1.5 Million Makeover,"The Journal News,Westchester County, New York, February 27, 2015, http://www.lohud.com/story/money/real-estate/lohud-real-estate/2015/02/27/jay-gardens-rye-makeover/24061239/
  11. ^ Lowey, Hon. Nita, "Jay Heritage Center to Become Energy Efficient, August 8, 2008. http://lowey.house.gov/press-releases/jay-heritage-center-to-become-energy-efficient/
  12. ^ Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, Jay Heritage Center http://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/Details.aspx?sid=d3872154-9f02-431e-9e54-b61230c295db[1]
  13. ^ African American Heritage Trail Brochure, Westchester County. http://africanamerican.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/Heritagetrailbrochure.pdf
  14. ^ New York State Path Through History, Civil Rights Planned Itinerary, http://paththroughhistory.ny.gov/cs/Satellite?c=PTH_CanItinerary_C&childpagename=PTH%2FPTH_CanItinerary_C%2FCannedItinerary%2FAdditionalDetail&cid=1362770684422&pagename=PTHWrapper


  • Jay, John. Memorials of Peter A. Jay 1905. G.J. Thieme.
  • Wells, Laura Jay The Jay Family of La Rochelle and New York, 1938. Order of Colonial Lords of Manors in America.
  • Morris, Richard B. Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).
  • Pfeiffer, John "Preliminary Archaeological Survey of the Boston Post Road Historic District of Rye, NY," April 21, 1982.
  • The Modern Builder's Guide,1833.
  • The Beauties of Modern Architecture, 1835.
  • Johnson, Herbert Alan, John Jay 1745-1829, 3d Edition, 1995. The University of the State of New York, The State Education Department.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°57′31″N 73°42′07″W / 40.958487°N 73.701922°W / 40.958487; -73.701922