Boldt Castle on Heart Island is located in the 1000 Islands region (between New York State and Canada, for our non-local friends). Both the castle and the grounds are breathtaking, and there’s a story here…
George Boldt personified the American Dream. An immigrant from Germany, George worked his way up from kitchen help to hotel magnate, making millions along the way. In 1900, he began construction of Boldt Castle. It stood on Heart Island and was to be a gift to his beloved wife, Louise. When his wife died suddenly in 1904, a heartbroken George ordered construction of the castle to be halted. Thus it remained for the next seven decades, becoming increasingly decrepit and vandalized as the years passed.
When I last visited Boldt Castle, in the 1980s, it was still in ruin. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA) had purchased the island in 1977, but had yet to do any major rehab. I remember crumbling walls and lots of graffiti. It was eerie, yet inspiring.
A week ago, my family met my brother (and co-author) Dave’s family at Heart Island. I had envisioned Dave and I wandering through the wreckage and brainstorming story ideas. This isn’t what happened.
First of all, TIBA has done an AMAZING amount of work on the castle, the grounds, and the other buildings on the island. The first two floors of the castle are gorgeous, reflecting what might have been had tragedy not struck the Boldts. The upper floors are still in a state of semi-decay, which reinforces the impressiveness of the rehab work which has been completed.
Secondly, there was no way Dave and I were going to stroll the castle and grounds for inspiration with our families along. Kids tend to have their own agendas, which don’t always jive with the plans of the adults! My family arrived on the island first, explored the castle, and met Dave’s crew for lunch. They then toured the castle while we checked out the grounds and out-buildings.
Though we didn’t really experience Boldt Castle together, I’m sure that Dave and I each picked up some tidbits that will make it into one of our stories some day…