By Robin Jovanovich
Long revered as a spiritual and philanthropic center and renowned gathering place for prominent leaders involved in the creation of the United Nations — Dwight Eisenhower, E. F. Hutton, Dag Hammarskjöld, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale — were among the dignitaries who met here — Wainwright House remains a remarkable place.
Built in 1931 by J. Mayhew Wainwright, a decorated lieutenant colonel in World War I, the Milton Point estate is modeled after Chateau de Raincheval, the 17th-century chateau where he was headquartered. Mr. Wainwright went on to serve his country as a State Assemblyman, State Senator, U.S. Congressman, and Assistant Secretary of War.
In 1951, his daughter, Fonrose, donated the house to the Laymen’s Movement, and built the adjacent cottage where she lived the rest of her life. For many decades, Fonrose House has offered accommodation for wedding parties. It sleeps 16.
While many continue to seek sanctuary at Wainwright House — through meditation, sound baths, wellness programs, and retreats — it has evolved into a vibrant community hub.
Pre-natal yoga classes are held in The Carriage House. Seniors have gravitated to the new Tai Chi classes. Dr. William Meyer, Rye High School Assistant Principal, leads meditation groups in The Library. Once warm weather arrives, yoga classes are held outdoors and paddle boarders rise up in Milton Harbor.
The Pollinator Garden in front of the house is a collaborative effort. Delia Bajuk, a member of Rye High’s Environmental Club, received a grant for the project from Rotary Club of Rye, and inspired guidance from landscape designer Jay Archer.
Last month, Wainwright hosted several memorable as well as successful events.
Over 150 Rye High parents, students, and faculty attended the AP Studio Art & Photography exhibit.
Rye High freshman Eddy Kehoe invited eighth graders to the unveiling of his World War I/Wainwright exhibit. Passionate about history, Eddy spent hours in Wainwright’s archives and worked closely with board member Deborah Walker, the nonprofit’s director of history. He plans to digitize his project.
A Flower Arranging class led by Outdoors Contained was sold out, as was the Swing into Spring dance class.
“We are building our membership through community engagement,” said board member Lexy Tomaino.
Members have year-round access to the house and grounds. The board plans to train docents to give tours; many students have already expressed interest in becoming docents.
Later this month, the Carole Alexis Ballet Theatre returns to Wainwright for a weekend of dance. A Big Mother’s Day Brunch will be held under the tent. Latino Jazz Night is coming in late July. Meanwhile, walk through the gates and up the path to worlds of self-discovery.