Swedish Cottage (Marionette Theatre)

The charming Swedish Cottage is home to a working marionette theater—one of the last in the United States.

Since 1947, a resident troupe of puppeteers have put on productions of Peter Pan, Cinderella, and other classic tales.

Authentically Scandinavian in both style and heritage, the Swedish Cottage was constructed in Sweden from native pine and cedar. Designed as a prefabricated schoolhouse, it was dismantled, shipped across the Atlantic, and reassembled by Swedish craftsmen for their country’s entry in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

There, it caught the eye of Park co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who chose the rustic building for the Park with no particular purpose in mind. In 1877, the Swedish Cottage was once again disassembled for its final journey to Central Park. It served a range of uses—a nature study center for children, a tearoom, and an entomological lab—before NYC Parks’ Marionette Theater took up residence in 1939.

Painstakingly restored in 1996, the Swedish Cottage retains many of its original materials including patterned shingles, simple hardware, and hand-rubbed interior paneling. It’s a member of the Historic House Trust.