On the evening of November 16, the Rye Meeting House/Bird Homestead was truly sight to behold.
On the evening of November 16, the Rye Meeting House/Bird Homestead was truly sight to behold. The occasion was the annual benefit, which also served as the opening reception for “On the Wing,” an exhibit of photographs by Nadia Valla of 50 of the bird species seen on the adjoining properties.
Valla’s native French chic and joie de vivre inspired guests, who included State Senator George Latimer and his wife Robin, Rye City Councilwoman Laura Brett, and a son and two grandchildren of anthropologist and archaeologist Junius Bird. Dr. Bird, of the American Museum of Natural History, grew up at the Bird Homestead.
All enjoyed a selection of wines, sangria prepared by the benefit committee, and hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Kelly McGuire. Douglas Carey was an excellent and hospitable bartender. Sophisticated piano music was provided by Rock Island Sound, which is located across from the Meeting House on Milton Road.
Board member Margot Burgheimer welcomed Valla and guests, and thanked the benefit committee. Aaron Griffiths detailed the ongoing restoration of the Meeting House’s clerestory, which dates back to the building’s days as an Episcopal chapel. Griffiths pointed out that the restoration is in keeping with the environmental stewardship evident in both the Meeting House and the Bird Homestead, both of which survived Hurricane Sandy unscathed. The restored clerestory, he noted, will provide the Meeting House with passive air conditioning. While warm air escapes through the clerestory, cool air will flow in through the Meeting House’s open windows below.
Benefit committee member Ann Marie Cunningham closed the program with news of the Bird Homestead’s gardening education for children and the Anvilla Prescott Cunningham Fund for Gardening Education, which honors her late mother, a botanist and gardener. The Fund has received so many donations that in 2014, the number of scholarships for children from Port Chester’s Carver Center will be doubled, from 22 to 44.