The stately Wainwright House façade
Wainwright Neighbors Unsettled by RowAmerica Rumors
By Robin Jovanovich
Walk or drive through the grand entrance to Wainwright House and it’s hard not to be in awe of the setting and the 1931 mansion that was modeled after the headquarters where Col. J. Mayhew Wainwright was stationed in France during World War I. It’s the place where descendant Fonrose Wainwright Condict, with help from Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, in 1951 established what continues to be the oldest nonprofit, non-sectarian holistic learning center in the country.
Through the years, the organization has hosted a wealth of spiritual and wellness programs; periodically, it has also come up against seemingly insurmountable financial challenges. In 2012, the City decreased the number of weddings allowed at the facility per year from 25 to ten due to neighborhood complaint about the noise.
Last fall, Wainwright board members appealed once again to the City of Rye to permit them to hold more weddings, with no success.
Earlier this year, Wainwright board members Robert Manheimer and Rick Gallos, accompanied by RowAmerica founder Howard Winklevoss, approached Wainwright’s immediate neighbors about a plan to lease the Fonrose House, raze it, and in its place erect a 7,000 square-foot modern facility out of which Row America would operate. The plan would require a Zoning use change.
The neighbors were not in favor of a plan that would commercialize a residential neighborhood and cause an enormous increase in traffic and noise.
In the last few days, over 110 Milton Point residents have signed a petition stating opposition to the building of a RowAmerica facility on the Wainwright House property; and if an application is submitted to the City that the petitioners demand it should only be approved by a supermajority.
While Milton Point neighbors voice no objection to kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes routinely being launched from Wainwright’s shore, they are very much against hundreds of rowers coming and going from dawn to dusk.
We reached out to several Wainwright board members and were told on Wednesday by Mr. Manheimer that, “The Fonrose House is not being leased to RowAmerica.”
Meanwhile, like all nonprofits, Wainwright needs more financial support. A small sign has been placed on the lawn next to the noticeably empty driveway. It reads: “Times are tough, but you can help get us through it.” Visit www.wainwright.org for donation information.