The beautifully preserved Jay Estate in Rye has watched over the Long Island Sound for 272 years. Today, the Jay Heritage Center, an educational nonprofit dedicated to preserving John Jay’s childhood home, watches over the property in return. Here, you can learn about America’s first chief justice of the Supreme Court as one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris and his leadership in abolishing slavery in New York State. The Center also works to tell the lost stories of the enslaved and emancipated people who worked on the property. “We are reminding the world that African Americans left an imprint on our land and had an impact in the evolution of our country,” says Suzanne Clary, president of the Jay Heritage Center.
Visitors can watch interactive plays, tour historic gardens and conduct archaeological digs, among other activities. (In addition to its Colonial-era history, the site is of archaeological significance.) Clary believes that location-based learning improves retention, especially when it comes to history. “We put a 4,000-year-old artifact in the palm of [a visitor’s] hands that came from beneath the ground on which they are standing,” she says. “These tactile and visual catalysts make people want to learn more about our shared heritage.”