Grant’s Cottage, on the slope of Mount McGregor in Wilton, Saratoga County, upstate New York, is a New York State Historic Site because President Ulysses S. Grant died there on July 23, 1885. The address of Grant’s Cottage is 1000 Mt McGregor Rd, Wilton, NY 12831.
Nearby is the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility, a medium security prison for male inmates. Note that the address of the prison is 1000 Mt. McGregor Rd, Box 2071, Wilton, New York 12831, which means Grant’s Cottage is right next to the Mt. McGregor prison.
The prison was taken over by the New York State Department of Corrections in the 1970s. Due to the state’s shrinking inmate population, Mt. McGregor prison, along with several other upstate prisons, officially closed for good on July 26, 2014.
But according to Rick Carlin of the Times Union, Mt. McGregor’s inmates had already been moved to other prisons in April — which means the prison was EMPTY even before its official closing. Indeed, Carlin reports that “Many of the 322 people who had worked at the prison, including correctional officers, have been or are being transferred to other facilities.”
All of which makes it very curious that on July 24, 2014, a WNYT Channel 13 news crew was threatened with arrest because the reporter, Mark Mulholland, while doing a story on Grant’s Cottage, was filmed standing in front of beneath the prison.
Here is WNYT’s news video, followed by my transcript and screenshots of the video:
On July 23, 2014, Mulholland and the WNYT news team went to Grant’s Cottage because it was the 129th anniversary of Grant’s death. A day later, on July 24, the team was sent back “to get additional [camera] shots.”
Mulholland was standing beneath the empty Mt. McGregor prison when a car sped toward him.
A uniformed man got out of the car, identified himself as a “corrections lieutenant,” and told Mulholland, “No filming.”
When Mulholland explained that they were doing a story on Grant’s Cottage, the officer said, “Doesn’t matter. You’re on state property right now. Can’t film here. You’ve got to get permission through Albany to film.”
So Mulholland conceded and said, “OK, we can go shoot from Grant’s Cottage.” The lieutenant said, “No. You’re not up here for that. You’re up here for a different purpose.”
When Mulholland repeats that they’ll go back to the cottage to shoot there, the officer says, “No. You’re leaving now.”
Mulholland: “You’re telling us we can’t visit a historic site?”
“No. You’ll run it through Albany.”
Mulholland then asks for the officer’s name.
“What’s your first name?”
Mulholland and crew then got into the car to drive back to Grant’s Cottage, only to have the way blocked by another corrections officer’s car.
Minutes later, the second car let some tourists through but continued to harass Mulholland by inching along in front of the news team’s car.
The news team then passed several men making a movie on the prison’s grounds.
On the way down from the mountain, Mulholland was detained by a NY state police officer who demanded their video, insisting that WNYT cannot leave with any film of the prison and that photos and video of the cottage with the prison in the background would be confiscated.
Lt. Dorn even threatened to arrest Mulholland.
After an hour of phonecalls between the TV station and Albany, the WNYT news team was finally allowed to leave without surrendering their video.
Rick Carlin of the Times Union has a follow-up on the bizarre incident:
The confrontation prompted The Associated Press to send a letter of protest. “We believe that the Channel 13 crew is owed an apology,” read part of a letter from Ken Tingley of the Glens Falls Post Star, the current president of the New York State Associated Press Association. WNYT News Director Eric Hoppel said Mulholland was reporting that the Grant Cottage site is scheduled to stay open after the prison closes. Another crew from a production company was on the prison grounds that day, shooting exterior scenes for a drama. State officials wouldn’t divulge details about the production.
ForbiddenKnowledge rightly asks “Why the secrecy” about a prison that’s empty. Is “Lt. Dorn” a private prison contractor? And is Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility being transformed into a FEMA camp?
So is this a case of power-mad prison officials, or is something more sinister going on in the supposedly empty prison?
To thank Mark Mulholland for his courageous reporting, send him an email!
H/t FOTM’s MomOfIV