Edgar Palmer, Princeton Class of 1903, and Zilph Hayes
When Edgar “Pedlar” Palmer, a 1903 engineering graduate of Princeton, purchased the Jay Estate in 1911, he undoubtedly knew that he was buying a home with Princeton associations. Sarah Jay’s uncle Peter Van Brugh Livingston had been an original trustee of “The College of New Jersey” the precursor of Princeton. Other alumni known to Palmer like Junius Spencer Morgan II or J. Frederick Talcott, both Class of 1888 had also lived or spent significant time at the Rye residence.
As avid and accomplished sailors, both Edgar and his wife Zilph were now occupying the waterfront home of one of the founders of New York Yacht Club, complete with its own miniature Station 10 styled cottage with views of Milton Harbor. The parcel which included Hen Island was conveniently located across from American Yacht Club, where Edgar would soon serve as Commodore.
Palmer ordered one of the first classic NY 40s designed by Nathanael Herreshoff – he named the boat Zilph after his wife and daughter and raced it with brother-in-law James E. Hayes, also a Princeton graduate. Zilph was victorious in the very first race of these new one-design 40 foot yachts in May 1916.
Gardens and Grounds Improvements
The Palmers enhanced the buildings and grounds according to 1917 plans surveyed by Brinley and Holbrook. It is likely that at this time the Indoor Tennis House was built. The gardens at the Jay Estate during this period were lush and beautiful. A young Zilph took a photo of a woman, possibly her mother, sitting under a long rose arbor. The gardens were opened to the public on many occasions: