The Preservation League of New York State’s 2008 Excellence in Historic Preservation Award honors OSI for MacNaughton Cottage in Adirondacks

New York, NY - May 5, 2008 -The Preservation League of New York State has selected the stabilization of the MacNaughton Cottage  in the Village of Adirondac in Newcomb, Essex County, to receive its prestigious Excellence in Historic Preservation Award. These statewide awards recognize individuals and organizations for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to the preservation of New York State’s irreplaceable architectural heritage.

In a landmark conservation transaction in 2003, OSI acquired the 10,000-acre “Tahawus” property including the historic Village of Adirondac, located in Essex County in the Town of Newcomb. OSI conveyed nearly 7,000 acres to the State that became part of the New York State Forest Preserve and 3,000 acres to a timber company for sustainable forestry.  Various structures in the Village of Adirondac are now undergoing restoration and emergency repairs after falling into neglect over the last half century.

“The stewardship of historic structures is often a challenging issue for land conservation organizations,” said Joe Martens, President of the Open Space Institute.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition from the Preservation League for stabilizing the MacNaughton House, and look forward to the day when the interpretation and enjoyment of this historic site will be enhanced by the building’s complete restoration.”

MacNaughton Cottage, a timber-frame saltbox double house, was constructed in 1834 to house the manager and the visiting owners of the Adirondack Iron and Steel Works who then owned the property. From 1876 until 1947 the property was leased to hunting clubs, primarily the Tahawus Club.

In 1901, then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was vacationing at the house when President McKinley was shot in Buffalo, and it was from Tahawus that Roosevelt began his historic ride to the Presidency. Traveling along the back roads of the Adirondacks to the North Creek railroad station, it was at the station that Roosevelt received a telegram informing him that President McKinley had died of his injuries. As a result, Roosevelt became our nation's 26th president.

“The Preservation League has a long history of assisting in preservation efforts in the Newcomb area, including support of a detailed building conditions study in the early 1990s that noted the historic and architectural significance of the MacNaughton House, despite its poor condition,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League.

“The Open Space Institute is to be congratulated for its commitment to saving this threatened property, and in so doing, setting an example which we hope will be emulated by other land conservation organizations.”

By the autumn of 2005, when OSI called on Argus Architecture & Preservation to assess the building, it had been abandoned in a state of total neglect for more than 40 years. Emergency stabilization was undertaken to ensure that the building would remain standing until the next construction season.

“To complicate matters,” said Janet Null of Argus Architecture, “except for road access, Tahawus is as isolated today as it was in the 1830s, and there is no power or water supply.”

Contributing to the success of this effort were Ms. Null, project architect, Argus Architecture & Preservation, P.C., Troy; Ryan-Biggs Associates, P.C., structural engineers, Troy; general contractor, Mercer Construction Co., LLC, Clifton Park; emergency work contractor West Branch, Inc. of Saratoga Springs and the New York State Museum. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was also instrumental in early stabilization work that may have prevented the Cottage from collapsing.

The award will be presented at the Preservation League’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony in New York City on Thursday, May 15th at the Park Avenue Armory, at 643 Park Avenue, New York City.

The complete list of award winners is: Webb Lofts in Buffalo, Erie County; MacNaughton House Stabilization in Newcomb, Essex County; U.S. Post Office & Courthouse, Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn, Kings County; Downtown Revitalization Program, Canajoharie, Montgomery County; Eldridge Street Synagogue, Lower East Side, New York County; Proctor’s Theatre, Schenectady, Schenectady County; Hotel Kirkland, Kingston, Ulster County; Model Development Block, New Rochelle, Westchester County. The Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors will be honored for organizational excellence, and Trude Brown Fitelson of Rochester will be honored for individual excellence. Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks by Anthony C. Wood (Routledge, 2007) will also receive a special citation. 

“Excellence in Preservation Awards are our principal means of honoring the preservation community and educating the public about the important contribution that historic preservation projects make to our quality of life throughout New York State,” said DiLorenzo.

“Each year, we are impressed by the number and variety of laudable projects, and this year was no exception. We are delighted to give the MacNaughton House stabilization the statewide recognition it deserves.”

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