Our non-profit, the Jay Heritage Center (JHC) is dedicated to transforming the 23-acre Jay Estate into a vibrant educational campus, hosting innovative and inclusive programs about American History, Historic Preservation, Social Justice, and Environmental Stewardship.

Sunday, March 3 at 9:30am

Volunteer Orientation

L-R JHC volunteers Jim Britt, Amy Villalba, Anthony DeMeo, Karen Matrunich, and Tracy Edwards with JHC’s Horticulture Director Lucia Maestro

After another winter, busy with planting plans, seed orders, new programs and speakers, we are finally preparing to welcome our visitors and volunteers back into the gardens! Join us on Sunday, March 3 for a Volunteer Orientation day and help us plan for this spring. Meet us at the veranda of the Jay Mansion at the Jay Estate. This first day will serve as a way to share what’s ahead, make introductions and familiarize new volunteers with our grounds. It will also be a perfect opportunity to welcome both new and seasoned volunteers and docents, go for a short stroll, and take a peek into the gardens and the mansion. We are looking forward to seeing you all!


Sunday, March 3 at 3pm

The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley with David Waldstreicher and Iain Pollock

Help us welcome back David Waldstreicher, a historian of early and nineteenth-century America with particular interests in political history, cultural history, slavery and antislavery, and print culture. David has previously spoken at JHC – his talk was titled “Another View of the American Revolution – African Americans Hear the Call to Freedom.” David will discuss his work with Iain Haley Pollock, Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College. REGISTER HERE

David’s  latest book, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence, is the most deeply researched biography of the poet. The New York Times, in a recent feature on the book and Waldstreicher, described his willingness to put Wheatley “smack in the middle of the raging debate over the relationship between the American Revolution and slavery,” and praised his achievement in not only “tracing her life” but “also recreat[ing] the18th-century intellectual world Wheatley actually lived in.”

The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley has also received rave reviews from Oprah, which called it a “rich and necessary book,” and The New York Times Book Review, which said the book is “at once historical biography at its best, literary analysis at its sharpest and a subversive indictment of current political discourse questioning the relevance of Black life in our country’s history.”

Black History Month

Historian Dave Thomas Shares New Discoveries

What can we learn about Black History from cemeteries? This past Wednesday, Westchester historian Dave Thomas shared the newest discoveries made at Rye’s African American Cemetery with an appreciative crowd. Westchester County’s Commissioner of Human Rights Tejash Sanchala made introductory remarks. Dave explained how the use of sensitive ground penetrating radar (GPR) found several unmarked burials and monuments; he also showed news articles that supported proof of longtime land ownership by free black families like the Purdys of Harrison. Research and respect for human narratives go hand in hand.

Thank you to Ingraham Taylor and Rita Capek and our partners at the City of Rye’s Human Rights Commission and Tom Kissner from the Port Chester-Rye NAACP. The Jay Estate and the African American Cemetery are 2 of 16 sites on Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail where visitors can learn more about our whole history.  Our two nonprofits have been partners since 2010 advancing  awareness about local Black heritage and the resilient stories of real women and men, enslaved and free, who lived and worked in our community. Read more here. Photos by Kim Crichlow 


The Jay Estate in Rye was home to one of our nation's greatest peacemakers, John Jay...

...and today, it is YOUR park

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