On September 23rd, over 1300 people celebrated the Hudson River Valley Ramble on a gorgeous day in the park at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye. Some brought their dogs. Others spread out plaid picnic blankets and enjoyed a cappella singing from The Yale Spizzwinks. Activities included hand-scissored portraits from Sweet-Silhouette by Varin and a photo booth set up by Kim Crichlow Photography. Along “Jay Way” guests helped themselves to free Winston Churchill daffodil bulbs, pow-erful comic books, cool shades and an invitation to a free talk by renowned entomologist Doug Tallamy — all distributed at the Con Edison booth. Everyone was treated to free sips of Drink Virgil’s Zero Sugar All-Natural beverages thanks to John Bello, his daughter Lindsay Martin Bello and Reeds Inc.! Even the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 5 NYC came out to represent at this all American festival!
Large and small strolled the grounds of this majestic national landmark including State Senator Shelley Mayer who came to thank the organizers for giving back to the community. One young man celebrated his birthday by meeting his favorite author, Tracey West of Scholastic ‘s Dragon Masters series — she gave him the most memorable gift ever and autographed all 11 of her chapter books for him! Tracy Edwards chaired the event helped by Betsy White, Caroline Wallach, Annmarie Zell, Kelly Bakshi, Megan Monaghan and Liz Garrett.
And on Wednesday, September 12, guests at the Jay Estate in Rye were mesmerized by Peter Kenny’s presentation on the architecture and Duncan Phyfe furnishings of the late Richard Jenrette’s South Carolina house, Millford. Millford is one of six exquisite properties belonging to the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. Kenny, a recognized expert on American design of the 18th and early 19th century, is the current Co-President of CAHPT.
With over 30 years’ experience as Curator of American Decorative Arts and administrator of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, no one could surpass his expertise in comparing the 1841 Millford Mansion and its “cousin” the 1838 Jay Mansion side by side. He drew inferences about similarities in their construction and highlighted examples from the pattern books that likely inspired their owners and builders. Each of these buildings was once filled with mahogany chairs, pier tables, and more, but Millford has much of its original contents thanks to the stewardship of Jenrette, CAHPT and Kenny. Now through the generosity of several Jay descendants, original furnishings for the Jay Mansion are finding their way back home.
Sharing his deep understanding of Millford’s rare, intact collection of Duncan Phyfe pieces, Kenny extolled the New York cabinetmaker’s artistry and painted a picture of Phyfe’s clientele and the atmosphere of the budding American furniture industry. As a deft narrator and experienced educator, Kenny engaged his audience completely. The talk was co-sponsored by the Harvard Club of Westchester.
Photographs by Cutty McGill