Saturday, May 22, 2010

Boldt Castle Expedition

When I started researching travel to the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River, between upstate New York and Canada, the first thing that captured my attention and imagination, were the images I saw in the literature showing Boldt Castle. My mind immediately went back to cruising along the Rhine River in Germany, and seeing the silhouettes of magnificent castles against the horizon. With further study, I learned that, in fact, the original builder of Boldt Castle set out to build a Rhineland-style Castle on Heart Island to show his love for his wife.. That original builder was George C. Boldt, proprietor of the lavish Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Construction began in 1900 on the six-story, 120 room castle. But the castle (middle photo in this collage) is just one of the incredible structures on the island. Other structures on the island (shown in the remaining photos of the collage), include the Playhouse, the gazebo, Dove Cote, the docks, gift shops/foodservice, the "Arch d' Triumph", and Power House.

After construction had been in progress for four years, sometimes with as many as 300 workers at a time doing their craftsmanship, Boldt telegrammed the island and commanded the workers to "stop all construction." His wife, Louise, had died unexpectedly, and the broken-hearted Boldt never returned to the island. The castle remained vacant for 73 years, left to the mercy of the weather and the vandals. Fortunately for us, however, the castle has since been purchased by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, who maintains it to this day. Since 1977, millions of dollars have been invested in the restoration of the Heart Island structures. The top photo of this collage shows the marble staircase in the main entry, the stained-glass dome of the castle, the dining room, indoor swimming pool, and one of the bedrooms that has been renovated. Additional upstairs rooms are still in the process of being restored, which to me, is a good reason to return to see the progress made!

The grounds of Heart Island that surround the castle, are equally as beautiful as the interior of the castle. I was fortunate that on the day I was there, it was a gorgeous, sunny day, so I could basque in the sunlight and incredible river scenery, as I strolled around on the property. The guides there told me that the gazebo, shown in lower right of this collage, is the location of many weddings in the summer. And if the weather does not cooperate, and it begins to rain, the wedding party can be quickly moved to the expansive veranda/covered porch that surrounds the main entry to the castle (middle right photo). I was amazed to find out there is currently no fee to have a wedding on the grounds! However, since Heart Island is only accessible by boat, wedding guests would have to pay the fee to be motored over to the island; likewise, the group rate for touring the island is only $6/person (12 years and older).

When George Boldt was designing his castle, he wanted to demonstrate his love for his bride, Louise, by including a heart design throughout the property. This collage shows some of the ways he did this: Upper left---on the brass doorknobs; upper right, a stone heart on a wall; middle right, garden plantings in the shape of hearts; lower right, a heart design in the marble entry-way floor; middle left--a heart-shaped, raised planting bed, and lower left, special heart-shaped wrought iron seen on all the fencing of the castle. In a similar way, God has shown his love for us throughout the scriptures, and in the beautiful world he created. Also, just as George Boldt wanted to show his love for his wife, by building her a mansion, so Jesus tells us the same thing about our heavenly Father: His words in John 14:2 (KJV) state "In my Father's house, are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." So even though I wasn't allowed to take up residence at Boldt Castle, I am promised a heavenly castle----that is something to smile about!!! SOoooo, miles of smiles! Tricia------------------------------------->For additional information on Boldt Castle, click on and regarding other attractions in the area.
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