A Brief History of Rye, NY
This tour comprises a series of entries which hopefully provide insight into Rye, NY's perceptual landscape.
Rye City Center Audio Narration
This audio narration pairs with the attached image of the facade of Rye Free Reading Room. Next to the library, which was constructed in 1915, is the City Green which is accompanied by Rye City Town Hall and the Square House.
Built during the first half of the 18th century, Widow Haviland’s Tavern (also known as Square House) served as an inn and tavern before the Mead family purchased it in the 19th century. While serving as an inn, the location hosted many famous figures in history. Since 1964 the tavern has been used as a museum to educate the public about local history by the Rye Historical Society.
Blind Brook River Audio Narration
This audio clip records the steady stream of water in the Blind Brook River which is located behind the Rye Free Reading Room and the Square House.
For over 100 years, the African Cemetery in Rye provided a cost-free option for African Americans to receive a proper burial. In 1860, Underhill Halstead, a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth, transferred the land to the Town of Rye for African American burial plots, free of charge. It would feature 160 different gravestones throughout its time as an active cemetery; many were of veterans who served in the Civil, Spanish American, and both World Wars. Although it mostly comprising single graves, a few families were plotted together. After the last burial in 1964, the cemetery was neglected for the next 20 years. On Wednesday, May 28, 1986, it was rededicated after a two-plus year effort to restore it — the Town of Rye also placed a Westchester County Tricentennial Historic Plaque at the location.
The Westchester County Park Commission purchased the properties of Rye Beach and Paradise Park along the shores of Long Island Sound in 1927. They hired an award-winning firm, Walker and Gillette, to design the Art Deco architecture of a family-friendly park. Then Frank W. Darling, an architect of amusement parks all over the world, was hired by the Commission to build and operate Playland Amusement Park in Rye, New York. The park’s construction began on September 6, 1927, and the 280-acre park officially opened on May 26, 1928. The park is known as the first planned amusement park in the US and one of the first amusement parks easily accessible by car. The park is still open today and is operating 50 rides and attractions for the entire family, 7 of which have been open since before the 1930s.
Designed in 1909 by architects UpJohn and Conable and landscape architects Brinley and Holbrook, Rye Town Park and Oakland Beach were created during a period when Westchester was developing it's Long Island Sound beaches for recreational usage. The total 63 acre area serves as a popular spot to come experience some fun and relaxation at the historically known spot overlooking the Long Island Sound.
The Timothy Knapp House is the oldest surviving dwelling in Westchester County. Originally constructed about 1670 as a two-room dwelling, the house has been added on to several times, and took on its saltbox appearance in the middle of the 18th century. In 1992 the Timothy Knapp House was acquired by the Rye Historical Society, which restored the structure to is Colonial appearance. Across the street from the Knapp House is Milton Cemetery, a community burial ground that was laid out about 1750 by the Town of Rye. Together, the house and the cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Whitby Castle, located in Rye, New York, was completed in 1854. The home was originally built for William P. Chapman, who was a stock and commodity broker in New York City. Whitby was designed by noted 19th century architect, Alexander Jackson Davis. Whitby received its name after the ruined medieval abbey in North Yorkshire, England.
The only National Historic Landmark District in Westchester County, the Boston Post Road Historic District includes three 19th-century mansions (Jay Heritage Center, Lounsbury and Whitby) and their grounds, a nature preserve that includes a 10,000 year old Paleo-Indian meadow and viewshed, and a family cemetery that serves as the final resting place of Founding Father John Jay. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, it was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1993.
The Jay Heritage Center is a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the memory and childhood home of John Jay, a Founding Father, in Rye, New York. From Jay’s birth in 1745, until he enrolled at King’s College at 15, his home in Rye served as the catalyst for his later success in politics and law, notably serving as the first Chief Justice and second Governor of New York. The Jay Heritage Center is also responsible for historic preservation, environmental stewardship, archaeology, archives, and research. Regarded as the centerpiece of the Boston Road Historical District, it joined its other historical locations within the district when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The District would then be elevated to the status of a National Historic Landmark in 1993.