Monday, May 18, 2015


There are several great organizations in the Capital Region that offer programs, courses and activities for mature adults only.  The organizations are tied in with local public and private colleges.  We have had some great experiences with the organization offered by SUNY Hudson Valley Community College (the community colleges in NYS are a part of the State University system.)

Today we went to Saratoga County for a program at Grant's Cottage, on Mt. McGregor in the Town of Wilton.  Grant's Cottage is part of the NYS Parks and Recs Agency.  Of course Mt. McGregor had another tenant until 2014.  It was the home of Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility;   yes a NYS Prison.  But it was not always a prison.  It started out as a T.B. sanatorium, and was re purposed many times over. 

Here is an old stock photo of the sanatorium.  We are told it was a beautiful facility and had gorgeous grounds.

As I mentioned the prison did close last year and we are awaiting to see the next reincarnation of this building.  Since the prison's closing the cottage has been turned over to Moreau Lake State Park.  The rest of the prison land is being split up among other adjoining jurisdiction.  Hopefully the building will find another use soon.
In the past cottage visitors had to go through a detailed security inspection; yes the prison is closed but now there is just a parks security guard to take your plate number and name.  It is still a state installation and I guess they want to make sure no one gets to curious.
And before the prison there was a very beautiful resort built on the mountain top called The Hotel Balmoral. 
This hotel was the one of the first two (the other in San Diego) to have electricity.  It was a very glamorous hotel and catered to the very wealthy.  It was serviced by rail car.

The gentleman that built the hotel (Joseph Drexel) also owned the cottage that we now call Grant's Cottage.

President Grant did not own this property, nor did he live there for any length of time.  He was offered the cottage by Drexel, when during his last weeks of life, his doctor's recommended he leave NYC and get to somewhere with fresh, clean air to ease the punishment of his cancer.  The President finished his memoir here and then died here.

So, the park is open to those taking advantage of the program before opening to the public this weekend.  It was a wonderful program; we started with a lovely tea service and we were joined by reenactors who answered questions and provided an introduction to the property.  Then it was up to the cottage.

After a wonderful lecture by one of the dedicated Friends of Grant's Cottage, we had the chance to take a look inside.  Drexel immediately opened the house for tours after the President's death and the contents of the house are as they were when President Grant stayed here.
A photo of the President sitting on the porch, writing his memoir.
This chest holds many personal items belonging to Grant; a top hat (the only one he was known to wear,) articles of clothing, personal grooming items and the bottle on top holds the actual water laced with cocaine that was prescribed by the doctors to help with the pain of the cancer.  The State comes in every year to weigh it, just to make sure the contents are intact.
Again all the furnishing are from when Grant was in residence.  This is the hospital bed.
His favorite chair.  On the chair a little funeral wreath made by his granddaughter after his death.
This clock was stopped at the time of President Grant's death by his son and has never been used again. 
The funeral flowers.
After leaving the cottage we took a short stroll to the over look.
Although it was a bit hazy the view was not too bad.
With a wonderful day behind us, it is time to head home.  We decide to stop at a local sub shop chain to pick up a couple of their famous Neba Sandwich.  Storms are expected for late afternoon and evening so an early night it is.

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