Scenic USA - New York
|Photo and Feature Article by Monnie Ryan
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Power House image - Wikimedia (Hamidreza)
The story behind the stately Boldt Castle is one of love, tragedy and heartbreak. Located on Heart Island in New York's 1000 Islands region of the St. Lawrence River, the castle serves as a remembrance of a bygone era, as well as a symbol of undying love.
At the turn of the 19th century, George C. Boldt, a millionaire and proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, set his sights on the picturesque Heart Island to build a Rhineland-style castle, expressing love for his wife, Louise. The family spent four summers in the Alster Tower while some 300 stonemasons, carpenters and artists worked on the six-story castle. With 120 rooms, tunnels, Italian gardens and a drawbridge, the castle truly became a labor of love. But in 1904, the work came to a halt on the orders of a distraught Boldt. When his wife died suddenly, the broken-hearted Boldt was unable to live in the castle of his dreams, and never returned to the island again.
The castle remained abandoned for 73 years. But in 1977, the Thousands Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and decided to operate the castle as an attraction for visitors, using the revenue to help with preservation efforts. Since then, nearly $20 million has been spent on rehabilitation, restoration and improvement. In 2007, it was ranked the 14th most visited house in the United States with over 230,000 visitors per season. The castle is also a popular location for weddings, hosting more than 700 to date. Boldt Castle is accessible only by water and tour boats depart from both the United States and Canada.
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