MacNaughton Cottage, located at the Open Space Institute (OSI)-owned and managed 212-acre Adirondac Upper Works property in the Adirondacks, is the site from which then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt began his famous “midnight ride to the presidency” in 1901 after receiving news that President William McKinley had been shot in Buffalo.
OSI has announced the start of investigative and structural work on the historic building, the first phase of which will focus on interior demolition and clean-up to ensure stabilization. The work is designed to inform plans for future rehabilitation and potential adaptive reuse of the cottage, according to an OSI press release.
Built in 1834, MacNaughton Cottage is the only building that has survived from the site’s early mining era. Throughout its two-hundred-year history, the cottage housed iron mine owners, caretakers of the abandoned village, members of a hunting club, and finally miners working at a nearby 20th century titanium mine.
OSI acquired the 10,000-acre Tahawus tract in 2003 and transferred most of the property to New York State, but retained 212 acres for educational, historic, and recreational purposes, which includes the MacNaughton Cottage.
When OSI purchased the site, MacNaughton Cottage had been abandoned for decades. In 2005, OSI conducted emergency stabilization to prevent MacNaughton Cottage from collapsing, with additional stabilization projects following shortly after. The work was awarded an Excellence in Historic Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State.
Since then, OSI, with support from the Cloudsplitter Foundation, Overhills Foundation, Prospect Hill Foundation, Walbridge Foundation, JM Kaplan Fund, and New York State Council of the Arts, has invested nearly $1.3 million in improvements, including site planning, the initial stabilization of the 1856 McIntyre Blast Furnace and MacNaughton Cottage, and the creation of an interpretive trail with educational panels that guides visitors through the Village of Adirondac to the McIntyre Blast Furnace.
OSI’s completed improvements at the site have included relocation and expansion of the Upper Works Trailhead; new directional and interpretive signage; development of a riverside trail; and measures to protect the historic McIntyre Blast Furnace.
OSI is actively fundraising for an additional $350,000 for the MacNaughton Cottage rehabilitation. Funds raised for this project would allow OSI to transform the long-abandoned cottage into a space for visitor education, programming, and resources.
OSI envisions a full roof replacement, reconstruction of the front porch, installment of new replica windows and doors, repair and replacement of trim, and new siding for MacNaughton Cottage. Additional enhancements would include natural landscaping and construction of a wheelchair-accessible ramp to the porch.
The MacNaughton Rehabilitation Project is being managed by OSI in partnership with the Town of Newcomb and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Much of the work completed at MacNaughton to date, including architectural planning and structural investigations, has been made possible thanks to support from the Cloudsplitter Foundation.
To support the MacNaughton rehabilitation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustrations, from above, provided by the Open Space Institute: MacNaughton Cottage in 2021; and MacNaughton Historic Preservation Rendering, 2023 (additional photos can be seen here.)