At the end of September 2012, hubby and I decided to cross the border into New York to finally see what all the hoopla was about in regards to Boldt Castle, a major landmark and tourist attraction in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.
First, let me give you a quick rundown:
The construction of Boldt Castle began in 1900 at the bidding of George Boldt, a self-made millionaire and hotel magnate. This enormous, six-story, 60,000 square foot, 120-room castle was intended as a gift to Boldt’s wife, Louise, but when she died suddenly in 1904, all construction was immediately stopped. The abandoned property was vacant for over seventy years, exposed to the harsh winter weather and to occasional vandalism. The Thousand Island Bridge Authority
acquired the island the castles sits on and has been diligently restoring the property ever since. It is now a major summer tourist attraction.
That’s the story in a nutshell. Let’s move on to the images...
Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island, which is situated along the northern border of New York State. It is only accessible by water from both Canada and the U.S, and because it’s only a few minutes ride over from there, no more than ten minutes, we decided to head over to the U.S side and board the shuttle from Alexandria Bay.
|I can't wait to start snapping photos!|
As soon as the shuttle started to move...well...you know it...I whipped out my handy dandy camera, turned it on and started snapping away joyfully. I have to say that the castle is imposing enough from a distance, but as you get closer, the magnitude of it really hits you.
One of the first things you’ll notice on this property is the superbly-maintained grounds. According to the castle’s website, there are over 10,000 annual flowers planted each year. We visited late in the season, but despite that, the gardening was still breathtaking.
Even the bees think so...
There is a beautiful gazebo located on the grounds, which is a popular wedding site. There was actually a wedding ceremony getting started when we arrived.
Once you’re on the grounds, you can’t quite grasp that there are people that actually live in houses like this. Boldt Castle is so large that my camera couldn’t take in the whole thing in one image no matter how far back I stood.
This is the “Hennery,” or Dove-Cote. It was the first structure built on the island, and the first of many towers that were to rise on this island and others nearby.
You will notice that towers on this magnificent place are a common theme.
Modeled after Roman monuments, the ‘Entry Arch’ was originally intended to be the formal entryway to Heart Island from the St. Lawrence River.
The top is adorned with three large bronze stags.
The Alster Tower, often referred to as the ‘playhouse’, was intended for the entertainment of guests and for the Boldt children. Unlike the main residence, which was never completed, this was completed and occupied by the Boldt family during the four years when the Castle was being erected.
The Powerhouse below was intended to house coal fired steam generators to provide electricity to the island. Inside you'll find displays and photographs, and its steam engine generator, typical of the type that would have been used to provide power and illumination for the island estate. While walking around in there, I said to my husband “People actually live this extravagantly while others die of starvation. The contrast is astonishing.” To which he added jokingly “...and that’s how Marie Antoinette lost her head...” (My husband and his black humour)
There is a basement/cellear in the castle, but because there isn’t much to see, I only photographed the route to it. While we were down there, though, there were two women standing close to us. One said “What do you suppose they kept down here?” and the other answered “Slaves.” [snort]
|On our way to the dungeon...|
Finally, this is the Boldt Yacht House, located on nearby Wellesley Island. It was built to house the family's three yachts and houseboat. It now serves as a museum, and is open to the public for an additional fee. We didn’t visit it this time, but perhaps we will in the future.
I did take images of the interior of Boldt Castle, but not that many. We’re planning to visit again in the future, and I hope to snap more photographs that I can share with all of you. The castle is continuously being renovated, so there’s always something new to see.
This was a very interesting trip, and I must say that I have never seen anything quite like this. The question that kept popping inside my head was “Does anyone really need this much?” This type of extravagance is simply mind-blowing. And somewhat disturbing.