Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Alexandria Bay, New York: Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle is, at its heart, a love story.

George Boldt moved to America from Prussia in the 1860's, and worked his way up to become the manager of the Waldorf-Astoria. That hotel set new standards for luxury; the original version was where the Empire State Building is now.

Boldt was well compensated for his work. He had enough money to build a summer home in the Thousand Islands that could remind him of the castles back in the homeland. George thought it would be a great tribute to his wife, Louise. The construction of the building went on and on, with nothing overlooked. The family did spend a few summers there while the work continued.

However, Louise died in 1904. George sent a telegram ordering a half to construction, and he never again set foot in the building. It was left to rot, or least be hit by the elements and vandals, for more than 70 years.

Finally, in 1977, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought the place and started the business of renovating. So here we are, 36 years later as of this writing, and they are slowly turning into the showplace it was supposed to be.

If you are building a mansion, you want to have a grand entrance. This (shown right) is a pretty grand one, as the stairs move up from the fireplace. It was a much better picture from the top of the stairs than the bottom. The ground floor includes a dining room, ballroom, billiard room (a Clarence, N.Y. company even donated the pool table), and reception room. It all looks terrific.

The second floor has some finished bedrooms and bathrooms which are decorated in the 1900 style. The upper floors aren't done, but they do offer a look at what sort of shape the place was in when the Authority took it over. The grounds are particularly nicely kept. Boldt Castle has become the top tourist attraction in the Thousand Islands, and that's no surprise.

You can get there by a tour boat - one leaves from Alexandria Bay every half-hour - or by private craft. There is a customs bureau on Heart Island to check on Canadian visitors. Put it this way - it's worth a trip every so often just to see how the renovation project is going.

Here's a video on it:

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