Two Designers, One Estate

by Liz Dowling

Festive holiday events abound this time of year.  But when my friend Suzanne Clary invited me to dine with designer Alexa Hampton and landscape architect Thomas Woltz at a luncheon to celebrate the landmark Jay Heritage Estate, I jumped at the chance.

Photo credit: Cutty McGill

Thomas Woltz and Alexa Hampton (Photo credit: Cutty McGill)

This dynamic duo is helping Suzanne Clary (President of the Jay Heritage Center) and her team with restoration projects at the historic Jay Estate in Rye, New York.  Alexa Hampton has one of the most recognizable names in interior design.  Frequently included in “Best Designer” lists for the likes of Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and New York Magazine, Alexa runs her own design firm Mark Hampton, Inc and has product collections with Kravet, Hickory Chair, Visual Comfort and Stark Carpet.

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Alexa joined the advisory board of the Jay in 2010 and is assembling the soft furnishings for the Jay Mansion’s dining room to compliment the 1870 period.  She is an expert in all things classical, but knows how to make elegant, historic places modern and accessible for today’s use.  Alexa is a board member of the NY Landmarks Conservancy, The Institute of Classical Art and Architecture and the NY School of Interior Design.  The 1907 Classical Carriage House on the Jay property is another special project Alexa will work on to bring it back to its original splendor.

Thomas Woltz

Thomas Woltz

Thomas Woltz is another incredible talent working at the Jay Estate.  Thomas is the Principal owner of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects with offices in New York, Charlottesville, and San Francisco.  Named 2013 design innovator of the year by the Wall Street Journal, Woltz is a landscape architect who describes himself as a “storyteller,” embracing the complexity of modern life while responding to the conditions of each project location.  Currently at work on the $15 billion New York City Hudson Yards Development, Thomas is designing the 6.5 acre Public Square in the middle of the site, describing it as the “City’s Living Room.”

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Thomas first came to the Jay Estate as part of a sustainable landscape symposium organized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, DC.  Thomas was one of the speakers, outlining the challenges and opportunities inherent in preserving historic landscapes like the Jay Estate.  Suzanne immediately recognized his approach to revitalizing gardens as a clear fit with what she envisioned the Jay “campus” to become.

P1050925Suzanne and her board want the Jay gardens to educate and help tell stories of American Heritage.  Since Thomas’approach is a perfect match, things clicked between them.  Thomas and his team will create a concept plan and a 3D model in early winter 2015 for the fifteen historic gardens at the Jay Estate.

The luncheon was a celebration to announce the exciting news of a $500,000 matching grant to restore the Jay gardens and the stewardship agreement between the Jay Heritage Center, NY State and Westchester County.

Over 160 guests attended the luncheon.  Champage flowed, books were signed.  Everyone was in the holiday spirit!

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The venue was stunning.

Beautiful views for all the guests.

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Gingerbread houses, designed after the 1849 AJ Davis Cottage that once graced the property, decorated all of the tables.

Suzanne Clary and Alexa Hampton (Photo credit: Cutty McGill)

Suzanne Clary and Alexa Hampton (Photo credit: Cutty McGill)

Suzanne toasted Michael A. Kovner who received the JHC’s 2014 Preservation Award and he, with his husband, contributed a gift of $150,000 during the luncheon to help complete the gardens.

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NY State Assemblyman, Steve Otis, spoke about his support for preserving the Jay Estate and was instrumental in helping secure the $500,000 REDC Award from New York State Parks.

Thomas and Alexa both wowed the guests with slide shows of their incredible projects.

Suzanne and her daughter Taryn

Suzanne and her daughter Taryn

It was a wonderful event and so inspirational to see what this dedicated group has done to preserve this gorgeous historic property!

Gingerbread house modeled after original in the B/W photo

Gingerbread house modeled after original in the B/W photo

If you want any additional information on the Jay Estate, click here.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  The Wry Home will be back in 2015.

Jay Heritage Estate (Photo credit: Cutty McGill)

Jay Estate (Photo credit: Cutty McGill)

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Missie December 24, 2014 - 10:17 am

Thanks Liz! I missed this unfortunately but you captured it perfectly! The Jay house is a gem of a place to visit and be active with historical refurbishment so close to home!
Christmas greetings to you and your readers!

Allyson Martin December 27, 2014 - 9:59 am

Thanks for sharing Liz. I feel like I was there, just wish I really was. Suzanne has done an amazing job and is so dedicated to this project. Can’t wait to see it fully decorated.

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