Margaret and Alexander “Sandy” Davidson left their humble Netherton, Scottland abode for the United States in 1857. Once settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sandy Davidson took on a carpenter role at the local railroad company, and the couple's five children (three boys and two girls) adjusted well to life in the U.S.
The family’s middle son, William C. Davidson, helped create an American icon when he built the very first Harley-Davidson workshop for his sons in 1903. Affectionately referred to as “The Shed”, the Motor Company’s foundations were laid in the 10- by 14-foot workshop. However, Harley diehards still regularly pay homage to the place where it all began: that humble cabin in the Scottish countryside.
Unfortunately, the small cottage fell into ruin over the years. When Harley-Davidson enthusiasts Mike Sinclair, Maggie Sherrit, and Keith Mackintosh purchased the property in 2008, they promptly restored the home to period-correct standards. In 2019, the owners opened the doors to MoCo fans, allowing visitors to book stays on the historic site. In the midst of the pandemic, though, the group put the property on the market in April, 2021.
“The cottage was put up for sale as the current owners wish to retire but the only offers they have had have been from developers to knock it down and build new houses,” revealed Davidson Legacy Preservation group chair Nyree Aitken. “We as a community of bikers, do not want such a significant part of history to be lost.”
To help save the Davidson cottage for future Harley fans to enjoy, the Davidson Legacy Preservation group launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £500,000 ($610,365 USD). The funds will allow the organization to purchase the Netherton home outright and hire a manager to maintain the site.
While the Scottish cottage may not hold much significance for non-Harley riders, the brand recently visited the site during the 2021 Sportster S launch. Sandy Davidson isn’t considered a founder of the Motor Company, but Harley-Davidson wouldn’t have become an American icon without his contributions.
“He is pivotal to the story of the Davidson Legacy because he had the attributes of technical skill, an analytical mind, and an aptitude for problem-solving, “ Nyree added. “He didn’t know it then, but he had laid the foundations for an iconic, internationally recognized motorcycle-engineering phenomenon.”