OK so I have to admit that we actually paid for our Thousand Islands 2 Nation Tour and a tour of Boldt Castle. Busted the budget, but it had to be done, no other way to visit them. The castle is one of a few true castles in the Thousand Islands, but one of only two that are open for tours. This castle has quite a history with one of the sweetest/tragic love stories.
George Boldt, his wife Louise and their two children summered in the thousand Islands for many years and owned several properties in the area. Boldt came to the US as an immigrant from Prussia as a teen and lived the American dream (self made millionaire) beginning his career in a hotel kitchen. He became general manager of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City (where the Empire State Building currently sits) and the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia and along with his wife made many of our modern hotel comforts the norm. Specifically, room service and daily clean sheets. She was the one that realized that if you make the wife comfortable in a hotel the husband is also happy so she catered to the more feminine aspects of hotels.
Anyway, they purchased Hart Island and a “small” frame cottage on the property where they summered for several seasons. After renaming the island Heart Island, in 1900 George commissioned a six story, 120+ room castle as a gift to his wife Louise with several masonry out buildings.
First was the Alster Tower or children’s play house. This building has not been restored very much on the interior, but included a two-lane bowling alley, and living quarters in the tower.
The power house, which generated the power needed to run the castle via generators, a clock tower and bells. It is actually on a separate island connected by a stone bridge. The original burnt in 1939, but it has been reconstructed and is one of the most photographed structures on the property. You can see why, it looks like a castle by itself.
A gazebo overlooking the river.
The grand entrance arch where they would have greeted guests.
And a Dove Cote and French Garden
They also had a yacht house on Wellesley Island, which looks more like a mansion that a boat house. It doesn’t match the castle across the creek, but is on a different island so guess it didn’t matter, maybe it matched a “cottage” near by?? It too is open for tours, but we skipped that one. They say the bays will hold up to 120 foot yacht. Guess you should be called a YACHT at 120 ft.
Boldt adored his wife Louise and in building the castle as a monument to their love, included hearts in every motif possible. Below is the family crest he created which includes a heart with the family B and a hart (an adult male deer), the property has plenty of hearts and harts.
In 1904 when the property was almost complete and as George was planning to present the home to his wife for Valentine’s day she suddenly died. He was devastated and telegraphed the workers at the island to cease work. They left the castle and never returned. The castle was left vacant and never completed. They say George never set foot on the island again. The elements and vandals took their toll on the buildings until 1977 when George Jr. “sold” the property to the 1000 Island Bridge Authority with three stipulations, first no one could spend the night in the castle since Louise never had, second it could never be completed since she had never seen it completed and third all proceeds from tours had to be reinvested in restoring the property. In the last 40 years they have restored much of the estate to its original grandeur, but there are still areas in vast disrepair. They say that over $35million has been reinvested to date.
Nice little summer home but really imagine it is haunted by love not sure another family could find peace here.
Peace and Love from our little castle.