An institute employee who lived near the cottages discovered the fire at about 5:30 a.m. The cause is under investigation, but authorities believe the fire may have been the result of an electrical storm in the area.
“As the first home President Franklin Roosevelt built in Warm Springs, the nation has experienced a great loss with the burning of the McCarthy Cottage,” stated Commissioner Butler. “Because President Roosevelt resided there for four years, the McCarthy cottage was the cottage of most historical value.”
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Warm Springs and Flint Hill volunteer fire departments, who responded immediately, but were unable to save the cottages,” Butler continued.
Built in 1927, McCarthy Cottage was President Roosevelt’s Warm Springs home until 1932 when he moved into the Little White House. President Roosevelt first came to Warm Springs in 1924, seeking a solution for the paralysis of his legs caused by polio, which he contracted three years earlier.
Upon building and moving into the Little White House, Roosevelt leased the cottage to Leighton McCarthy, a well-to-do Canadian businessman whose son also had polio. McCarthy would go on to become Canadian Ambassador to the United States during World War II and his son’s family would continue to reside there during treatment visits to Warm Springs until the 1970s.
McCarthy Cottage had been used for staff and VIP housing since 1974, when the State of Georgia assumed ownership and operation of Roosevelt’s famous treatment center. In 2005, McCarthy Cottage was given renewed prominence as one of the primary set locations for HBO’s movie Warm Springs, which won five Emmy Awards, including best picture.
The E. T. Curtis Cottage was built in 1928, adjacent to McCarthy Cottage. Curtis Cottage was built by the manager of the Meriwether Reserve, which was the corporation that Roosevelt originally established to run both the commercial and non-commercial operations and activities of Warm Springs.
The two cottages, along with 27 others, are now part of the Warm Springs National Historic Landmark District. Both were to have been restored as part of the Georgia Rotary District 6900 Adopt a Cottage Campaign launched in May to eventually restore all 29 historic cottages.
“The Rotary’s Adopt a Cottage Campaign makes it possible to restore these cottages and protect the historic legacy of the Institute without the use of state funds,” said Commissioner Butler.
Donations to the Adopt a Cottage campaign can be made through the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation Foundation. They can be made online at www.rooseveltrehab.org or by calling (706) 655-5666.