Wainwright House
"Mother told us that on a summer holiday which she and Father were spending with his parents in Rye, Grandfather [learned that] the Brown farm of about 100 acres on Milton Point was to be sold at auction. Grandfather said he thought he would just go down to the Point to see what happened. Grandmother said she cautioned, 'Now, Howard, don't do anything foolish!' Grandfather disclaimed any such intention. However, on his return, she said, he looked rather sheepish, so she asked, 'Howard, what on earth have you done?' To this he replied laughingly, 'Mag, I've been and gone and done it. I bought the whole Point!"

Throughout generations of Wainwrights and their Mayhew ancestors, a remarkable family trait keeps re-emerging: a willingness to make life-changing decisions on the spur of the moment somehow coupled in the same person with a deep commitment to serve community, country, and God. Spontaneity and dedication seems like a marriage of opposites. It is this remarkable, catalytic combination, which has so much to do with how Wainwright House was created and what it is today. The story begins like this...

The first Wainwright emigrated to the U.S. in the 1780's. Eventually settling in Rye, the Wainwrights became one of Rye's most influential families. John Howard Wainwright and his wife Margaret (a direct descendent of New York Gov. Peter Stuyvesant) bought Milton Point in 1864 and summered there with their four sons, who later built houses along Stuyvesant Avenue (yes, the road is named for their mother's family). These buildings include Wainwright House, Panetiere Restaurant, Coveleigh Club, The Anchorage, The Willows, and a large brick home near Hall's Lane.

The youngest son was Colonel J. Mayhew Wainwright. He became a state assemblyman, state senator, U.S. congressman, Assistant Secretary of War, and a much-decorated lieutenant colonel in World War I. When he was in Doullens, France, he was headquartered at a 17th century chateau called Raincheval, which came to have a great impact on him. On the eve before he was to lead his men to battle, he promised himself that if he came through the war alive and made it back to Rye, he would build a chateau resembling Raincheval on the family land on Milton Point. He did, completing Wainwright House in 1931. Col. Wainwright was active in Rye's Christ Church for more than 24 years, first as a vestryman then as a warden.

He served on the Westchester County Parks Commission and on the boards of the Seamen's Church institute and St. Luke's Hospital.

His brother John Howard Wainwright, Jr. was a Rye trustee in the early 1900's. Another brother was Richard, an architect who designed his own home, Coveleigh, and was Commodore of American Yacht Club. His third brother Stuyvesant, who owned Anchorage, was an avid sailor and a deck officer in WWI. A later cousin, Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, was a hero of the battles of Bataan and Corregidor during WWII. Looking further back, Col. Wainwright's grandfather, Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (1792- 1857), was Episcopal Bishop of New York. In New England during the 1600's and 1700's, Col. Wainwright's Mayhew ancestors were ministers and politicians- most notably Gov. Thomas Mayhew, who later in life became a missionary, and Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, who founded Unitarianism in New England.

Col. and Mrs. Wainwright had one child, their daughter Fonrose. In the late 1940's Fonrose suffered the lost of both her parents and her husband in the space of just a few years. Whereupon, through a series of apparent coincidences, she met a then unknown young minister, Norman Vincent Peale. It is said that Peale walked through the door of Wainwright House, stopped suddenly and remarked with awe that even though it was empty and unused, the house was filled with love. Fonrose knew then she had found a compelling use for her parent's home. In 1951, she founded Wainwright House, Inc. With the belief that there should be a place under one roof where people from all backgrounds and all beliefs and even no beliefs at all- could aspire for a greater understanding of the creative force of life we call God.
What is Wainwright House Today?
Wainwright House is the oldest non-profit, non-sectarian holistic learning center in the United States. Our mission is to inspire greater understanding through body, mind, spirit and community. In this sacred space, we seek to inspire by offering initiatives in spiritual exploration, health and healing, cultural enrichment, and environmental awareness.

Teachers have included Thomas Berry, Joan Borysenko, Rosalyn Bruyere, Ralph Bunche, Joseph Campbell, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Mathew Fox, Michael Harner, Jean Houston, Aldous Huxley, Craig Junjulus, Dolores Krieger, Thomas Moore, Bernie Siegel, Sir Laurens Van Der Post, and Roger Woolger, to name but a few. Early supporters included Dwight Eisenhower, J.C. Penney, and John D. Rockefeller.

Join us and experience tranquility and inspiration on Wainwright House's five acres of lawns and gardens overlooking Milton Harbor on Long Island Sound. Facilities include three buildings with meeting rooms, dining rooms, a meditation room, library, and solarium; also the Yoga Center and lodging for programs and retreats.

Wainwright House is a non-governmental organization of the United Nations and is not affiliated with any religion or religious institutions. It is available for meetings and events and rental by non-profit and civic organizations. For more information call 914-967-6080.
260 Stuyvesant Avenue, Rye, New York 10580  •  914-967-6080  •  registrar@wainwright.org               
 
Wainwright House Inc. is qualified as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions are tax-deductible, as allowed by law.
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