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Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Home History A Door into History Back on Its Hinges

A Door into History Back on Its Hinges

Rye has a "new" door into history. Sunday’s New York Times recounted the terrific story of Suzanne Clary, president of the Jay Heritage Center, hunting for the missing original front door of the Peter Augustus Jay House. The house sits on the site of the boyhood farm of founding father John Jay.

The Jay house was in a shambles after a long battle in the 1980s with developer Diane Millstein who finally lost her battle to pave over a piece of American history with private homes. One of the pieces missing from the home was the front door. From the Times:

"So just before Christmas, Ms. Clary, a tall, blue-eyed whirlwind who strides through the Jay house in a powder blue Burberry winter coat (the house is not yet well heated), put out an all-points bulletin, sending letters to Jay neighbors wondering if any had ended up with missing architectural elements. At the top of a hit parade that included fireplace caryatids and a mahogany staircase newel was the almost 10-foot-tall, hand-carved front door.

As Ms. Clary tells it, she was recovering from Christmas dinner when the phone rang and a middle-aged man’s voice said, “I’ve got your door.”

Ms. Clary barely waited for details. She raced by car to the home of Andrew Delli Paoli, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the Jay house along Boston Post Road in a mid-19th-century house. She knew the instant she saw the white door propped outside his house that it was the one. The curls in the honeysuckle design, known as an anthemion, echoed the carving in the pilasters straddling the makeshift Jay front door.

Mr. Delli Paoli, who owns an asphalt business, told her that the door was in the basement when he bought the house 20 years before and that he never used it.

“I told him it was the best Christmas present I ever got,” Ms. Clary recalled. “He said, ‘Don’t tell your husband that.’”


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