Thursday, September 28, 2023

OSI begins work to restore historic MacNaughton Cottage

artistic rendition of MacNaughton cottage

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced the start of investigative and structural work on the historic MacNaughton Cottage, located at the OSI-owned and managed 212-acre Adirondac Upper Works property in the Adirondacks. MacNaughton Cottage 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.

The first phase of improvements to MacNaughton Cottage will focus on interior demolition and clean-up to ensure stabilization of this important historic structure. All work is designed to inform plans for future rehabilitation and potential adaptive reuse of the cottage.

OSI has already invested $1.3 million on improvements to its Adirondac Upper Works property with the goal of providing a welcoming, safe, and accessible southern entrance into the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness. 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.

With continued support, 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.

“This project has been more than 20 years in the making, with OSI working with the Town of Newcomb, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, local stakeholders, and a team of architects, architectural historians, and engineers to create a plan to breathe new life into this small piece of American history,” said Peter Karis, OSI’s vice president for parks and stewardship. “These plans build on OSI’s commitment to protecting and improving the Adirondac Upper Works site to better disperse and educate visitors coming to the High Peaks.”

“Projects like these are transformational to the way visitors interact with the landscape and acquire an appreciation of the region’s history,” said LoriJeane Moody, OSI’s senior vice president of development. “We hope to partner with generous donors to fully fund the rehabilitation of MacNaughton Cottage and create a future where everyone can experience this historic place.”

To support the MacNaughton rehabilitation, email

History of MacNaughton Cottage

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.

About OSI’s work at MacNaughton Cottage

Recognizing the historic and environmental importance of this spectacular landscape located in the heart of the Adirondack Park, OSI acquired the 10,000-acre Tahawus tract in 2003. OSI transferred most of the property to DEC, but retained 212 acres for educational, historic, and recreational purposes, which includes the historic 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.

In 2008, OSI was awarded a prestigious Excellence in Historic Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State for its initial rounds of work to stabilize the structure.

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.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

2 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    It is a great old house. I hope it isn’t modernized any more than necessary.

  2. Greg S says:

    Roosevelt knew days before that President McKinley had been shot. He did his Night Ride after receiving word that the President had taken a serious turn for the worse and was near death.

    There’s no mention of specific re-use of the structure. Glad that this is being saved.

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