Last updated: 10/10/2012
Katonah, New York
Street Address
400 Jay Street (Mailing:P.O. Box 832)
Katonah, NY 10536
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 832
Katonah, NY 10536
phone: 914-232-5651
fax: 914-232-8085
e-mail: friends@johnjayhomestead.org
web: www.johnjayhomestead.org
Hours
Thursday - Fridayclosed
Sunday - Wednesday, Saturday10 AM - 4 PM
Services
Special Event Rental
Staff
Heather Iannucci, Historic Site Manager
Allan Weinreb, Curator/Interpretive Programs Assistant
Description

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is both a local gem and national treasure. A visit to the Homestead today is an opportunity to increase one’s knowledge and enthusiasm for history, to contemplate the principles upon which America was founded, and to learn about farm life in the 19th century. In addition, the Homestead’s 62-acre grounds include historic outbuildings, four formal gardens, open fields, a pond and wooded trails – supporting a wide range of outdoor activity.

History

During twenty-seven years of service to his state and nation, John Jay looked forward to the day when he would retire with his wife and family to "the house on my farm in Westchester County…." The land his farm occupied was purchased from the Native American sachem, Katonah, in 1703, by Jay's maternal grandfather, Jacobus Van Cortlandt.

By 1801, John had acquired, by inheritance and purchase, 750 acres of land in Katonah. During his second term as governor, Jay had renovations made to his farmhouse in Westchester in preparation for his retirement from public life. He was finally able to move to the house in 1801. Sarah died the following spring, leaving Jay a widower with four children. Jay never remarried. Living in the house until his death in 1829, he quietly enjoyed his life as a country farmer. He was keenly interested in agriculture, horticulture, his family, his church, and the growing issue of slavery, which he abhorred.

William (1789-1858), John's younger son, inherited the Homestead. He continued his father's work in horticulture, as well as the tradition of service to his fellow man. William became a figure of national importance. Using the might of the pen, he furthered the abolitionist cause. He married Augusta McVickar in 1812.

Eleanor Jay (1882-1953), the only surviving child of William and Lucie, inherited the home and continued the family commitment to community service. She married Arthur Iselin in 1904. She was the last of the family to use the Homestead, which she and Arthur called Bedford House, as a full-time residence. Her most distinctive contribution to the site was architectural. In 1924 ground was broken for a ballroom/portrait gallery, which more than doubled the size of the house.

Arthur Iselin died in 1952 and Eleanor died the following year. Westchester County subsequently purchased the house and thirty of the original acres. In 1958 Governor Averill Harriman signed legislation making the property a New York State Historic Site. In 1968 an additional 34 acres were acquired resulting in the current configuration of 62 acres.

Educational Programs

SCHOOL PROGRAMS

The John Jay Homestead State Historic Site invites you and your class to learn about the life of Founding Father John Jay and to explore the exciting times in which he lived. After a lifetime of public service, John Jay and his family retired to his farm in Bedford in 1801. Jay had been the chief negotiator of the Treaty of Paris, and had served as Chief Justice, Secretary for Foreign Affairs and as a two-term Governor of New York. Jay’s wife, Sarah, died shortly after moving to Bedford and Jay never remarried. Upon John Jay’s death in 1829, the farm and home were inherited by William Jay, John’s second son. William Jay became a prominent leader of abolitionists, and the Homestead became a center in the anti-slavery movement.

Services

THE JOHN JAY SOCIETY

Help Friends of John Jay Homestead Plan for the future: For over 30 years, Friends of John Jay Homestead has worked in partnership with the State of New York to provide funding for preservation, restoration and educational programs at the site. As we plan for the future, we hope you will join us in a program to secure the Friends of John Jay Homestead’s role at this site. The John Jay Society recognizes and honors those generous individuals who have included the Friends in their estate plans or will. We invite you to become a member of the John Jay Society by including Friends of John Jay Homestead in your estate plans. In addition to the many tax advantages, it is a meaningful and immediate way to contribute to the future of John Jay Homestead. For information on joining the John Jay Society, or if you have already included The Friends in your will, please call: Wendy Ross, Executive Director, at 914.232.8119.

Your Special Event at John Jay Homestead

A limited number of indoor and outdoor spaces at John Jay Homestead State Historic Site may be rented for private or public events. Weddings, parties, corporate meetings and picnics, lectures, public fairs and the like can all be arranged by permit with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation staff. For information about availability and additional details about holding special events at John Jay Homestead, telephone Allan Weinreb at (914) 232-5651 x102.

Special Event Rental

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