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The first Wainwright emigrated to the U.S. in the 1780’s. Eventually settling in Rye, the Wainwright’s became one of Rye’s most influential families. John Howard Wainwright and his wife Margaret, a direct descendent of New York Governor Peter Stuyvesant, bought Milton Point in 1864. Their sons also settled on Milton Point and eventually built the homes that we now know as the Wainwright House, the Coveleigh Club, and Ocean Blue Prime restaurant.

Colonel J. Mayhew Wainwright, their youngest son, became a state assemblyman, state senator, U.S. congressman, Assistant Secretary of War, and a much-decorated Lieutenant Colonel in World War I. While stationed in France, he was headquartered at Raincheval, an 18th century chateau. At that time, he promised himself that if he survived the war that he would return to Rye and build a home resembling Raincheval on the family land on Milton Point. He did, completing Wainwright House in 1931. 

Colonel and Laura Wallace Buchanan Wainwright had only one child, a daughter named Laura Fonrose Wainwright. Fonrose and married Philip Condict, and they lived on the estate together with her parents, losing both parents and her husband by 1949.  With no children of her own, she sought to find a worthwhile purpose for the estate as a memorial to her parents. In 1951, she established the Wainwright House as a not-for-profit where people from all backgrounds and beliefs -- and even no beliefs at all -- could gather under one roof to garner a deeper understanding of themselves and others. ​At that time, she built a cottage, now named the Fonrose House, where she lived until her death in 1983 at age 90.

Deborah Walker Historical Tour on RYETV

Our History


Deborah Walker, Wainwright Board Member and Director of History, gave RyeTV a private tour of the estate.

Deborah Walker Historical Tour on RYETV.
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