Preserving the Past, Inspiring the Future

SylvestEr Manor Capital Campaign 2023-2027

Over the next five years, our goal is to weave together Sylvester Manor’s expansive acreage into a single, holistic campus that is open and accessible to all. This campaign has two primary goals:

  • Rehabilitate and preserve the 1737 Manor House, ensuring it remains a living structure reflecting the complexity and layers of our Nation’s history.

  • Transform the historic grounds into a more accessible, welcoming site to give more people the opportunity to learn from and experience this nationally significant place.

Our Vision for Sylvester Manor


The 1737 Manor House is the single most important artifact in our collection and one of the crown jewels of this historic site. The exterior and oldest portions of the House will be rehabilitated with the help of historic preservation professionals. The newer section of the House, which dates to 1908, will be adaptively reused for programming and interpretive purposes. Over the next three years, we will establish the Sylvester Manor Center for History & Heritage to include accessible artist/scholar-in-residence workspaces and housing, offices for expanded History & Heritage staff, year-round exhibition and program spaces as well as support facilities.


Sylvester Manor was a privately owned property and estate for hundreds of years. The existing entrances, driveways and circulation are vestiges of the past and do not represent the mission or goals of this maturing not-for-profit. The goal is to adapt entranceways and circulation into a site that integrates programming, protects highly sensitive and historic features and ensures full public access to the entire property.

Sylvester Manor Capital Campaign Brochure


Investments in Sylvester Manor’s infrastructure will ensure we continue to expand existing programs and meet the needs of our community. Included in this plan is the adaptive reuse of a newly acquired historic building, the Farmhouse, for operational and administrative purposes. This increased office space outside of the Manor House will enable the organization to continue to grow and adapt for years to come.

Who We Are

Sylvester Manor is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located on Shelter Island, New York on the ancestral lands of the Manhansett People. The 236-acre waterfront site is the most intact remnant of a former slaveholding plantation north of Virginia and is Shelter Island’s only site of national significance on the National Register of Historic Places. Our mission is to Preserve, Cultivate and Share historic Sylvester Manor by celebrating inclusive history and offering innovative programming that is open to all.

Why Sylvester Manor Matters

Consisting of 236 acres of working farm fields, woodlands and wetlands, a 1737 Manor House, a restored 19th-century windmill, an Afro-Indigenous Burial Ground and family cemetery as well as a formal garden, it is uniquely positioned to be a nationally recognized center for place-based learning and interpretation.

Sylvester Manor has become an educational and cultural mecca for students of all ages, from the youngest children to adults and eminent scholars. Using shared resources, collections and the layered cultural landscape itself, we are committed to bringing expanded programming and the full, inclusive history of Sylvester Manor to a broader audience.

Campaign Underway

Recent progress has catalyzed the capital campaign, giving us momentum and demonstrating the resonance of our mission.

Over the past year:

  • $4.375M of grant funding has been awarded, including:

    • $500K grant from New York State

    • $3.75M grant from the Mellon Foundation to establish the Sylvester Manor Center for History & Heritage

  • $125K grant from Gerry Charitable Trust


Giving to the Sylvester Manor Capital Campaign is a transformative opportunity FOR YOU to be a meaningful part of our future.


The campaign is currently broken down into four distinct parts:

1737 Manor House Rehabilitation $9,000,000

Accessibility (Entrances, Roads,
Parking, Etc.) $2,000,000

Farmhouse Renovation/
Administrative Offices $1,000,000

Maintenance & Preservation
Endowment $1,000,000

TOTAL: $13,000,000

Manor Design Concepts


New Circulation


Naming Opportunities

Coming Soon!

Campaign FAQs

Sylvester Manor’s financial needs are closely aligned with its strategic priorities: inclusive historical interpretation, sustainable farming and food access, place-based learning opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, arts and cultural programming, and increased public access and use. While the primary focus of the campaign is on the historic rehabilitation of the Manor House, we need improved entranceways, roadways and parking areas to adequately preserve and use the House; new administration/office space; and improved programming and interpretation both within the House and surrounding landscape.

The impetus for starting the campaign now stems from four major events.

  1. The completion of our Comprehensive Landscape Plan by Nelson Byrd Woltz in late 2020.

  2. The completion of the Sylvester Manor House Preservation and Maintenance Plan by Architectural Preservation Studio in early 2022.

  3. The transfer of the full interior Manor Collection from the family to our non-profit in the Winter of 2023.

  4. THREE major grant awards supporting rehabilitation of the 1737 Manor House, December 2022-April 2023: $3.75M from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $500K from New York State Environmental Protection Fund/Office of Parks and Historic Preservation and $150K from the Gerry Charitable Trust.

Three to five years.

Winter 2023-2024.

The Sylvester Manor Board of Trustees has approved a Capital Campaign Committee that will act in a planning capacity to move the campaign and strategy forward. The Executive Director  will remain responsible for *most* day to day decisions. For larger decisions, the Executive Director and Director of Development will make recommendations to the Sylvester Manor Board. For the duration of the campaign, the overall fiduciary and operational responsibilities sit with the members of Sylvester Manor Board. The Board will ensure that funds raised are managed effectively honoring donor-directed restrictions. At least seven members of the Board sit on the Capital Campaign Committee for coordination and overlap.

We encourage donors to spread their campaign gift over a three- to five-year period. Capital campaigns have a special targeted purpose for raising money and the funds are restricted. By spreading your pledge out over time, you have the flexibility to plan for your financial commitment. The first pledge payment is encouraged to occur in the 2023 tax year but can be made in 2024 as well.

Absolutely! Matching gifts are the perfect way to increase your gift! Many professionals are employed by companies who may offer this charitable benefit option. It is worth exploring if your spouse or partner has a corporate matching program. Contact Courtney Wingate @ to provide matching gift information.

No. Annual giving is crucial support for ongoing operations at Sylvester Manor and will be measured separately from capital campaign gifts. We still count on your ongoing operational support!

Check/Credit Card

Wire Transfer

Appreciated Stock

IRA Qualified Distributions


*Please make checks payable to Sylvester Manor

Yes. Absolutely! We will work together on a pledge payment schedule.

At the time you make a gift or a pledge, we will ask you to complete a donor recognition designation form outlining your preferences for how we recognize your contribution. Donors receive a tax acknowledgement letter following receipt of their gift. 

Sylvester Manor’s fiscal year runs from November 1-October 31. Annual gifts to the Capital Campaign are credited to the fiscal year in which payment is received. For multi-year pledges, recognition in the Annual Report will be for the entire amount in the fiscal year in which the gift intention is documented; credit in subsequent years is based upon the amount of the pledge payment received in each fiscal year.

A bequest to the Sylvester Manor Capital Campaign would ONLY be used toward the endowment, unless proceeds are received from 2023-2027. Donors who document their intention to include Sylvester Manor as a non-contingent beneficiary of their estate plan will receive credit in the fiscal year in which the intention is documented at a discounted value based on the age of the youngest individual upon whose death Sylvester Manor receives the bequest. This age, usually a minimum of 65 years, is determined as of October 31, 2026.

To document a bequest intention for gift credit, a donor must complete a Bequest Intention Form and provide a copy of the relevant portion of their will or trust. On the Bequest Intention Form, the donor is asked to provide or estimate the current value of the bequest. 

Gift Acceptance Policy

If Sylvester Manor deems there is a conflict of interest, a gift may not be accepted. Gifts will NOT be accepted if Sylvester Manor determines that the gift appears to be made for the primary purpose of unduly influencing or undermining the integrity of the Mission of the organization. 

Gifts may also not be accepted if the gift imposes a disproportionate burden on the organization with respect to financial, administrative, and other costs; or that are likely to have a negative impact on the Sylvester Manor community that would frustrate the purpose of the gift.