July 14, 2016
Boldt Castle: The Heart of Heart Island
In the Thousand Islands region of New York along the coast of the St. Lawrence River lies the illustrious Boldt Castle. The castle was built by millionaire George C. Boldt, made prominent by his administration of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, for his beloved wife Louise. Beginning in 1900, the construction of the six story, 120 room castle began sparing no expense or luxury. Four years later, due to an unexpected tragedy, Boldt’s cherished wife suddenly died, causing him to cease all construction indefinitely. The Boldt Castle remained untouched, and unfinished, for 73 years as a grief-stricken Boldt could not continue on with creating his dream home without his wife. Finally, in 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority decided to restore and improve the castle for all who visit Heart Island to enjoy.
Today, Boldt Castle is all that George Boldt imagined it to be and more. It has been restored to all its glory, and has become one of the most famous attractions in the region. The castle is open to the public, is the sight of many beautiful weddings, and is the central fascination on tiny Heart Island. In fact, Boldt Castle is only accessible by water! The completion of the Castle included many modern and elegant innovations like a marble floor, a stained glass dome, and modern furnishings. However, many of the upstairs rooms of the castle remain unfurnished in an attempt to display what the castle looked like before construction was continued.
Along with the Boldt Castle, visitors can explore the Power House, the Alster Tower, and the nearby George C. Boldt Yacht House for a full day of fun! One of the grandest aspects of the castle is the picturesque Power House. The Power House holds the triumphal arch bridge in the entranceway that was envisioned by Boldt himself. While gorgeous, Boldt designed The Power House for function as well as beauty. The Power House was built to generate the island with electricity, and is now a display of how electric power operated in the early 1900’s. The grandiose Castle also has the Alster Tower. The Alster Tower, often referred to as “the playhouse,” was built by Boldt as a play area for his children and guests. Although so much has changed since 1900, the purpose of the Alster Tower has stayed much the same.
When beginning construction on his dream castle, George C. Boldt probably never imagined that 100 years later, tourists would come from all around to explore his breathtaking estate or that his home would become the heart of Heart Island.
By Rachel Kampersal
View two itineraries that visit Boldt Castle:
Islands, Castles and Canals: Boston to Montreal
Locks, Legends & Canals of the Northeast