CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT:
MARY RUTHERFURD JAY AND HER FAMILY AT THE JAY
MANSION IN RYE, CIRCA 1873; HOUSE BEAUTIFUL ARTICLE
BY M. R. JAY ON JAPANESE BUNGALOW STYLE; LANTERN
SLIDE OF GARDEN WITH BRIDGE AND STONE LANTERNS;
MEMBERS OF THE GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA VISIT
THE JAY ESTATE TO TOUR THE GARDENS UNDERGOING
RESTORATION. PHOTO BY CUTTY MCGILL
out pridefully to their friends; some as a collection of wonderful flowers; some as merely the setting for
a well-appointed house. But those who think of a garden as a place to rest the body and invite the soul – those true garden lovers – are to be found in Eastern countries. It is from them we are learning.” Mary Rutherfurd Jay shared and applied all that she had learned about the healing power of gardens during her WWI service with the Ameri- can Red Cross. Jay was also a “farmerette” and decorated member of the American Committee for Devastated France, a battalion of female volunteers organized by Mary’s close friend Anne Morgan, daughter of banker and philanthropist Pierpont Morgan. Certainly the civilian group’s motto of “Remember Lafayette… Be a Lafayette” would have had resonance for her. Both at home and in France, the humanitarian ef- forts of these women, which helped entire villages like Soissons in Aisne recover from the destruction of the Great War, were nothing short of astonishing. In her later years giving lectures to garden clubs and horti- cultural societies around the country, Mary would use luminous “magic lantern” slides to illustrate the beauty of what had been lost, but also to emphasize what could be restored. Visitors can learn more about “Mary Rutherfurd Jay – Garden Archi- tect” when an exhibit focusing on her life and career opens June 7 th , 2015 at the Jay Heritage Center. The exhibit will complement the ongoing $1.5 million restoration of the ancestral gardens that fed her soul and her imagination and will hopefully continue to inspire a new generation of landscape architects.
terraced setting. A 1928 newspaper article rued the omission of this secret oasis from available New York City guidebooks. Jay grew up in a family and in social circles that embraced travel and cultural immersion and this influence was evident in her work. Her grandfather, Dr. John Clarkson Jay, was a dear friend of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, whose historic expedition opened the doors to trade with Japan in 1854. The stories she grew up with, together with her own junket to Japan in 1909, had a lasting impact on her professional work and personal life. On her return, she incorporated moongates, tea houses, lanterns and water features into her landscape plans for clients like George Wickersham, US Attorney General under President Taft and President of the NY City Bar Association. With an interest that extended to architecture, Jay extolled the virtues of the Japanese bungalow in a 1912 article for House Beautiful Magazine. “No one who has lived in Japan for any length of time can come away without the desire to carry something of the spirit, simplicity and charm which pervades the homes there into our more complex life here.” Her love of Japanese culture carried over into her own homes and gar- dens. She named her country retreat at Storm King Mountain after a bo- tanical print she transported back with her from Japan: the image of a large Iris with exotic magenta perianths and purple leaves is captioned “Sennyo no Hora” meaning “The Cave of the Hermitess.” This choice of name for a summer refuge was not at all a reflection of a solitary personality but rather demonstrated Jay’s own belief in the spiritual benefits of garden retreats. “What is the purpose of a garden? Some think of it as a showplace to point
Suzanne Clary is president of the Jay Heritage House.
Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker