Summer Road Trip with Chuck D’Imperio
The famed writer spent a long winter here (1887-1888) and fell in love with the region. He came to Saranac Lake for the same reason hundreds did in that era…to get well. Saranac was famed for its cure cottages and medical facilities where the treatment of tuberculosis was being pioneered. Stevenson was in rough shape when he arrived after a long boat and train journey from Scotland to New York City to the Adirondacks. He took up residence with the Baker family, the owners of this simple white and green cottage.
By the time Stevenson arrived in Saranac Lake his work The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was already a runaway best seller and plays were even being performed of it. The handsome young writer was the toast of the Adirondacks and fans came from far and wide to see the celebrity in their midst.
The museum today remains pretty much as it was when Stevenson left after his sabbatical in the village, right down to the cigarette burns on the old wooden mantle over the living room fireplace! There are many artifacts here that tell the story of this amazing man and his many famous friends. One cannot help but feel a sense of historical importance standing at the foot of the very bed that Stevenson lay in while writing his classic The Master of Ballantrae. His deep purple smoking jacket and velvet hat still hang from the clothes rack as if waiting for the writer to come back from an afternoon of ice skating on nearby Moody Pond.
The Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum is one of the most important historical residences in the Adirondacks but almost nobody knows its story. That is why I chose to include it in my new book Unknown Museums of Upstate New York.