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Columns

March 27, 2013

Historic Cooperstown cottage got a new address in 1988

(Continued)

McGhay died in January 1887. Family survivors finally sold their home to Edward Clark in 1925 for $5.26. Employees of Edward Clark then occupied the house beginning in 1928. Clark transferred the home and land to his building company, Leatherstocking Corp. in 1930.

Ben Pierce, a dairyman at the nearby Fenimore Farm, found on today’s Farmers’ Museum grounds, lived in the cottage with his wife and daughter until 1957. Otto Higgins, also a Fenimore Farm employee, lived there from 1957-1985.

The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce knew about the cottage and the stalemate between the village and Leatherstocking Corp., and suggested moving the cottage to their visitor site. The Chamber’s modern building had been erected on Chestnut Street in 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial, but had since remained very active for tourists seeking information.

The Chamber’s suggestion was welcomed by both the Village Board and Leatherstocking Corp., with the latter agreeing to move the cottage from 131 Lake St. The Chamber sought funds to restore the cottage and received $47,000 to do so from a 1986 Enviro nmental Quality Bond Act.

The Clark Foundation, members of the Cooperstown Chamber and volunteers also supported the effort to save and restore the cottage.

Moving the cottage became a spectator event for some Monday, Dec. 12, 1988. Coordinating the move was Gary Van Buiten and employees of his moving firm from Oxford.

Van Buiten moved the cottage in two pieces. The roof section went first, lifted by a crane onto a flatbed truck. The main body of the cottage was then lifted and placed on a separate flatbed truck. Cooperstown village police and state police diverted traffic along the route.

The cottage was placed on a new foundation close to the sidewalk of Chestnut Street. The existing tourist information building remained in back of the cottage and the two buildings were joined by a breezeway. Plans were to have the cottage ready by March 1, 1989, for the upcoming tourist season, which featured the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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