Mission of the Project
The John Jay Homestead House Restoration Project is a comprehensive multi-year plan addressing the long term needs of the house: fire protection, interior and exterior restoration, interior refurbishment including conservation of objects, and additions to the collections. Each room will be re-interpreted to better represent our interpretive period, 1801 – 1829.
What Is It?
Fire Protection – Our highest priority is raising the $1,000,000 needed to fund a fire protection system for Bedford House. A 2006 fire and security survey estimated our volunteer fire department’s response time as 20 minutes, while the estimated time for destruction of Bedford House by fire is 10 to 15 minutes.
House Restoration – This project will encompass a full restoration of 11 period rooms, the Iselin wing, back parlor exhibit gallery, and summer kitchen discovery center. We will be addressing capital restoration needs, conservation of objects, and additions to the collection. In addition, we will re-focus the interpretive story in a new way to help tell the story of John Jay, his life, legacy, and accomplishments.
From a practical standpoint, the installation of the fire protection plan and the dismantling of the interior rooms, present the perfect opportunity to assess the long-term needs of the house, i.e. interior and exterior restoration, interior refurbishment including additions to the collections, and a fire suppression system. Much needed attention has been paid to the historic outbuildings and landscape of John Jay Homestead over the last few decades however the Main House has taken on a shabby appearance.
Although some restoration projects have occurred in the Bedford House (Ballroom restoration, 2008; new roof installation, 2006-09; Nancy Jay’s Bedroom restoration, 2008-10), large scale restoration has not taken place since the New York State Department of Education prepared the house for public opening in 1964, and most previous House Committee projects addressing interior décor were completed in the 1990s.
Given its stature as the main artifact, the house is deserving of our much-needed attention. Parenthetically, can we imagine our most important historic houses, like Mt. Vernon or Monticello, in a state of disrepair? Touring the homes of Washington and Jefferson is integral to the visitor experience and we suggest taking a similar view of our house’s potential.
Jay’s Bedford House not only contains a compelling collection of American and European antiques and decorative arts, but it is where Jay’s unique accomplishments and the important role he played in the founding of our nation come alive. Restoring his home perfectly embodies our call to action, “help keep the American story alive.”