Trisha Shetty (Editor)

1838 Peter Augustus Jay House

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Location  Rye, New York
Designated NHLDCP  August 30, 1993
Added to NRHP  29 October 1982
Built  1838 (1838)
Opened  1838
1838 Peter Augustus Jay House
Part of  Boston Post Road Historic District (Rye, New York) (#82001275)
Architectural style  Greek Revival architecture
Architects  Minard Lafever, Chester Hills, Asher Benjamin
Similar  Jay Heritage Center, Boston Post Road Historic D, John Jay Homestead State Hist, Playland, St Ann's and the Holy Trini

The 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House and surrounding 23-acre (9.3 ha) Jay Estate form the centerpiece of the Boston Post Road Historic District of Rye, New York. The site is the surviving remnant of the 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm where one of America's seven Founding Fathers, John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829), grew up and where he also returned to celebrate the end of the Revolutionary War. The preserved property is located on the south side of the Boston Post Road (US 1) in Rye and has a 34-mile (1.2 km) view of Milton Harbor. It overlooks a 10,000+ year old Paleo-Indian archaeological site and the oldest man-managed meadow on record in New York State.


The house and its landscape are the keystones of a National Historic Landmark District (NHL) created in 1993.

Location and significance

Of America's seven founders, Jay alone was a native of New York State. He was raised in Rye from infancy at a country seat called "The Locusts" overlooking Long Island Sound. He returned there frequently throughout his illustrious career for important family gatherings most famously a celebration of his role as one of the three American peace commissioners who negotiated the Treaty of Paris.

Jay inherited the entire property outright in 1813 and conveyed it nine years later in 1822 to his eldest son Peter Augustus Jay. Seven years after his father's death, Peter reluctantly took down the ancestral house but reincorporated its timbers, doors, shutters and nails into a new 1838 structure, locating the second construction on the footprint of the first building. Stylistic elements appear to have been influenced by architectural pattern books by Minard Lafever, Asher Benjamin and Chester Hills. While the style of the mansion's facade is grand, the rear piazza replicates the simplicity and same dimensions of the first house, one story high and 80 feet (24 m) long.

Upon seeing the preserved landscape and viewshed of John Jay's youth and early adulthood, Justice Harry Blackmun remarked,

"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."

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

"The [1838] Peter Jay 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."

Historic preservation and interpretation

The Jay Heritage Center owns the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House. Pieces of the original 18th century house "The Locusts" found within the mansion are also on public view and illustrate sustainable building traditions. JHC uses the house to host programs in American History, Architecture, Landscape Conservation and Environmental Stewardship. The building is an official Save America's Treasures project.

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. The Jay Estate was designated a member site of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (HRVNHA) 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).

African-American Heritage Trail and NY State Path Through History

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. 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. It is open to schools and to the public.


1838 Peter Augustus Jay House Wikipedia

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