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Writer’s Hideout Preserved Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum

(DoNorth/Jessica Blondell) Replace, cigarette in hand, brainstorming story ideas as his stepson quickly jotted them down. This is how the writer spent most of his days while living in a small cottage in Saranac Lake. His temporary home is now the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum. Best known for the children’s classic “Treasure Island” and the adult horror story “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Stevenson left a lasting legacy after living in this Adirondack cottage. The museum, located in Saranac Lake, was created to preserve the memory of Stevenson. According to the museum’s website…

(DoNorth/Jessica Blondell)

Replace, cigarette in hand, brainstorming story ideas as his stepson quickly jotted them down. This is how the writer spent most of his days while living in a small cottage in Saranac Lake. His temporary home is now the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum.

Best known for the children’s classic “Treasure Island” and the adult horror story “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Stevenson left a lasting legacy after living in this Adirondack cottage.

The museum, located in Saranac Lake, was created to preserve the memory of Stevenson. According to the museum’s website records, manuscripts, books and other miscellaneous objects are there to educate the public about the writer.

“This is the grand-daddy of the Stevenson museums—there are four around the world, but this is the oldest,” curator Mike Delahaunt says. “We have guest books starting from 1917 ’til this day.”

The white house sits on a hill on Stevenson Lane with green railings scaling around the cottage. Flowers of different colors bloom while two flags sway in the wind on the porch.

The cottage has six rooms in total. Stevenson rented four of the rooms from the Bakers, the original owners of the cottage. The study is the first room you see when walking into the museum, which is where Stevenson wrote mostly every day.

Against a red background covering the study’s walls are pictures of Stevenson along with several essays. “The Lantern Bearers,” “Beggars” and “Pulvis et Umbra” were published from January 1887 to May 1939 in the American periodical Scribner’s Magazine.

Under a portrait of Stevenson sits a rare picture cut out from a newspaper. Delahaunt says it’s the only picture that features the Stevenson’s outside the cottage during the cold winter.
A photograph of Stevenson’s wife, Fanny, hangs near the top of the wall in the study, directly above a painting of Stevenson and a lady in the park. Her beauty shines through the photo, almost taking the attention away from the other photos in the room. Her life surrounds that photo in the form of letters and other photos of her and her children.

Moving into the next room, you are greeted to the master bedroom where Stevenson and Fanny slept. Above the bed hangs a picture of what Stevenson could have looked like when writing in bed: cigarette placed in his hand with papers resting on his legs as he stares out in front of him. The bedroom is set up exactly how the Bakers left it once the Stevensons moved out. Every piece of furniture has been in the cottage since the beginning. For example, a vanity is placed across from the bed in a moss green color, which matches the bed’s headboard. The vanity is surrounded by photos of Stevenson and Fanny’s time in California.

Beside the bedroom is one of Stevenson’s favorite part in the house: the living room. This room holds the oldest fireplace in the state with every burn Stevenson snuffed into it with his cigarettes. An autographed copy of “Treasure Island,” which was dedicated to Lloyd, Stevenson’s stepson, resides on the fireplace next to a poem Stevenson wrote called “Winter.”

“His desk and the fireplace were his favorite spots to sit during the winter; he wrote there the most,” Delahaunt says. “When working on ‘The Wrong Box,’ Stevenson’s mother would climb out her bedroom window to go to the kitchen, so she wouldn’t interrupt them.”

The museum is open July 1 to Sep. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. But to have a more personal experience, people can make appointments throughout the year to see the cottage Stevenson once lived in.

Issue 6: Winter/Spring 2016

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