WILTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Grant Cottage is both a State Historic Site and National Historic Landmark located on Mt. McGregor Road in Wilton. It was the final residence of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States.
This is the history of Grant Cottage. All information is from the Grant Cottage website.
The mountain where Grant Cottage stands was purchased by Duncan McGregor in the mid-19th century. He began building on it in 1872. The mountain was soon named after him by some local ministers.
Grant Cottage was originally opened by McGregor as a hotel. Eventually, the mountain was sold to a group of investors in 1882. The railroad to the top of the mountain was built that same year.
In 1883, the cottage was moved to its current spot to make room for a larger hotel, the Hotel Balmoral, which opened in 1884. The hotel could house 200 guests and had electricity.
Grant moved into the cottage on June 16, 1885. Once there, he completed his book “Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant” with the support of his family and publisher Mark Twain. The book was completed only days before his death on July 23, 1885.
The Mount McGregor Memorial Association was established to take care of the cottage after Grant’s death. It opened as a historic site in 1890 with a live-in caretaker. In 1985, New York State announced plans to close the cottage at the end of the season. Facing pressure from the community, the state reversed its decision. In 1989, Friends of the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage was formed to operate and take care of the cottage.
As for the rest of the mountain, the Hotel Balmoral burned down in 1897 and was not rebuilt. The property was then sold to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1910. They soon after built and opened a tuberculosis sanitarium. In 1945, the sanitarium was converted into a veterans’ rest camp.
Eventually, New York State dissolved the law chartering the cottage and surrounding land and took ownership. In 1960, the veterans’ camp was turned into the Rome State School for developmentally disabled children. It was later turned into a New York State Department of Corrections minimum security prison. The prison closed permanently in 2014.
Today, the cottage stands virtually as it did when Grant’s family was there. Visitors can view the original furnishings, decorations, and personal items belonging to Grant, including the bed where he died and the floral arrangements from his funeral.
Tours of the cottage are offered from May through October. You can buy tickets during the on-season on the Grant Cottage website.