Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

March 16, 2022

Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing
(518) 486-1868 |

State Parks Announces Cutting-Edge Fire Protection for John Jay Homestead State Historic Site

Water Mist System Creates Rapid Fire Suppression While Reducing Potential Water Damage Risk 

Protects Irreplaceable 18th Century Home of U.S. Founding Father and Expansive Collection of Arts and Artifacts   

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced work has begun on a new $3.1 million fire suppression system in Bedford House at John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, the Westchester County former 19th century family residence of one of America's Founding Fathers. 

"This new equipment will protect this home, which dates to 1787, and its irreplaceable collection of historic furniture, arts, and other objects from potentially devastating loss," State Parks Commissioner Kulleseid said. "As New York prepares to mark the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War in 2025, State Parks is committed to preserving heritage that reflects the role of our state and its residents in the founding of this nation." 

The new system at the homestead uses a high-pressure water mist system, in which fine droplets of mist – rather than streams of water – are released from pipes when sensors detect a fire. In the heat of a blaze, the mist quickly converts to steam, which expands to fill an area, rapidly lowering fire temperatures and displacing oxygen, depriving the fire of the fuel it needs to continue. Mist systems also deploy much less water than traditional fire sprinkler systems, reducing the risk of widespread water damage to rooms and contents in the aftermath of a fire. 

State Parks Taconic Regional Director Linda Cooper said, "This aspect of the new system is particularly important in a place like the Jay Homestead, which is a very old wooden residence containing many delicate, unique historical objects that could be severely damaged or destroyed by fire or water damage. With the generous support of our Friends group and the Thompson Family Foundation, this level of protection will help preserve the Jay Homestead and its collection for the inspiration of future generations of visitors." 

Due to construction, which is scheduled to be completed by April 2023, Bedford House's historical collection has been removed and placed in temporary storage. Bedford House will be closed to the public during construction, but the site's Carriage Barn Education and Visitors Center, grounds and gardens will remain open, with programming events to continue. Upon completion of the fire suppression system, work will immediately begin on restoration of the home's period rooms. That work is scheduled to be completed by April 2024, when the building will be reopened to the public. 

Laura Harris, president of the Friends of John Jay Homestead, said, "We are delighted to be partnering with New York State in this critically important project to safeguard John Jay's Bedford House, the invaluable collections, and stories of American history that it houses. I want to thank the Thompson Family Foundation, New York State, and Friends of John Jay Homestead Trustees for their leadership gifts toward this project. this is truly the best example of what a public private partnership can accomplish together." 

The Friends group contributed $700,000 to the project, including a $600,000 grant received from the State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and the New York City-based Thompson Family Foundation Inc. contributed $500,000. The foundation was formed by Wade F.B. Thompson, the late owner of the Airstream travel trailer company. 

State Senator Shelly B. Mayer said, "The John Jay Homestead is a historical treasure that truly allows people to immerse themselves in the history of our district and our country. I am pleased the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is making this investment as we begin to prepare for the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War. Thank you to Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, the Friends of John Jay Homestead and the Thompson Family Foundation for your leadership in the preservation of this important location." 

State Assembly member Chris Burdick said, "The John Jay Homestead is a gem for Northern Westchester. The historic buildings, the beautiful landscape, the farmers market, and the lectures and tours provide something for everyone - from small children to adults. I'm glad we were able to expedite an EPF grant to help cover the cost of the fire suppression system and am so pleased that work on the system has begun. We must do all we can to preserve this historical landmark, a living piece of history in our community." 

The collection at John Jay Homestead includes a John Trumbull portrait of Jay, who was an author of the Federalist Papers, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and New York's second governor; chairs in which the first U.S. Senators sat when writing the Bill of Rights, the desk where Jay sat as Governor and signed New York's first anti-slavery legislation, a Houdon bust of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, correspondence between the Jay family and prominent abolitionists, and a variety of family possessions, decorative pieces, and artworks. The Homestead was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1981. 

A water mist fire suppression system was installed at the Olana State Historic Site in Colombia County in 2007. State Parks is also considering such a system for potential installation at the Grant Cottage State Historic Site in Saratoga County. 

Water mist systems are used in such historic and cultural institutions as Mount Vernon, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, as well as in major hotels and cruise lines. 

The fire suppression system at John Jay Homestead will be installed by United Fire Protection Corp., of Farmingdale. Electrical work will be performed by Foremost Electrical Corp., of Ossining; and general construction done by Sanz Construction, of Staten Island. Construction Management is being provided by ARCADIS U.S. Inc. Design consulting was provided by H2M Architects + Engineers, and RAN Fire Protection and Engineering. 

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which in 2021 were visited by record 78.4 million people.  For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.