Boldt Castle

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 26th Wellesley Island, NY

Today we got up and showered so we smelled good and looked fancy for our trip to the castle.  We packed up the RV and drove over to Wellesley Island.  We first headed toward the Boldt Castle.  Our first stop was the Boldt Yacht House; from here you can catch a free shuttle boat to Heart Island, the location of Boldt Castle.  We were allowed to check out the Yacht House, where they are currently showcasing a variety of antique boats and steamships.  The Yacht House was built to house the Boldt family's three yachts and enormous houseboat in slips 128 feet long.  The main space rises 64 feet and the high doors on the water are so heavy an engine was required to move them.  Quarters for crews and maintenance staff were adjacent, which were really nice spaces.  We both agreed that we’d love to live there and have the boat room as a living room space.  So the Yacht house was a good start to the tour.  
          
We then hopped on the shuttle boat and road the 2 minutes over to Heart Island.   We got our brochure and headed up to the main house/castle where we watched an informative movie on Mr. Boldt and the building of the castle. Basically George Boldt moved to America from Prussia poor and worked his way up to be a successful hotel magnate in America.  He was managing/profit sharing the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia (whoo-whoo!) He and his wife actually build the hotels to the famous stature they are today.  George built Boldt Castle as an eternal monument to his love for his wife.  He was very involved in the design and construction of the island.  However, Louise (his wife), died in 1904 and immediately George stopped construction.  All work immediately stopped and the castle began to fall into a state of disrepair.  George never came back to Heart Island.  While being romantic, it also was silly. After spending millions on this island he abandoned it.  So it sat getting vandalized until 1977 when the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority purchased it and began working to rebuild the property.  What an undertaking it must have been.  It still is in progress but the first 2 floors in the main castle are completely refinished and all the structures are rebuilt.  It is quite an impressive property.  It would have been awesome to see it in its hey-day.  With the big galas and people arriving on boats through the stone gates into the docks.  Gorgeous.    

We then wandered the castle, the detailing was amazing.  It was great to see all the beautiful craftsmanship.  Again though, it seemed a little sad that it ever fell into such disrepair.   We were able to wander all over the building.  The entry Hall was a 3 story space with a beautiful stained glass dome (which you were able to see at level from the 4th floor).  We walked up to the loft above the 4th floor to get a good view of the river and all the exterior detailing of the roofs and eaves.  It was great to see close up.  Then we headed to the Foundation level, where there was a cool swimming pool and lounge space (all unfinished, but a great space).  From here we took the underground passage out to the power house.  It felt sort of like we were in a secret passage.

We then checked out the Power House, which again was a cool designed building connected to Heart island with an arched stone bridge.  The highest tower of the Power House provided river traffic with an illuminated clock. Then we took a walk to The Alster Tower (play house) which was a towered structure that was unique in its construction.  Not as uniform or organized as all the other structures on the island, it was a whimsical building.  We weren’t able to get inside to check this one out, but there is supposedly an ornate shell room, carved stair, and also two-lane bowling alley in the basement.  From here we were done checking it all out, so we jumped back on the shuttle boat and headed back to the Yacht House/RV.

After eating some lunch, we headed over to check out Thousand Island Park.  This is one of the residential sections on Wellesley Island.  It had a charming little center of town/park and some nice Victorian style houses. 
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