Boldt Castle: A peek inside of an architectural wonder

Author: By Joan Fox Rose
Posted: Monday, June 29, 2009

My first glimpse of the castle was during the summer of 1975 when the interior of the mansion looked like a dark, gaping hole with sea birds flying overhead and building debris rotting around it. Destiny stepped in during 1977 when, after 73 years of neglect, the Thousand Island Bridge Authority (TIBA) acquired the Heart Island properties for a fee of one-dollar. During the ensuing years TIBA slowly rebuilt the decaying castle so that future generations could enjoy this Guilded-Age mansion.

Setting foot on the Island from a shuttle boat more than 30 years after my first visit, I saw a row of small, white buildings with peaked roofs that house a ticket office, souvenir shop and a place to purchase soft drinks and snacks. A steep hill within the park-like setting leads to the multi-story castle.

Along the way are sturdy benches that sit among tall maples and oaks to offer a moment of respite and a shady view of Alexandria Bay. Closer to the castle are beautiful plantings of geraniums, petunias, begonias and other multicolor flowers.

As I walked through the large, wood and glass castle doors, “Tales of The Vienna Woods,” by Johann Strauss filled the spacious rooms. A Steinway sat between two windows, but the music was coming through an unseen CD player. Music selections are changed weekly and chosen to enhance the castle’s ambience, a guide explained.

As I moved along the light, yellow-brown hardwood floors, I noticed some visitors were humming while others were taking small dance steps, and small children were laughing as they danced along side their parents. The downstairs museum rooms include a reception room, dining hall, main hall, billiard room and library.

Looking around I noticed floor to ceiling windows filled with natural light and green ferns set in large pots. Furniture groupings, area rugs and many fireplaces add to the feeling of being in someone’s home. Photos of a genteel-looking Louise Boldt, attired in formal and informal dress, hangs from white and yellow hued walls, a gracious hostess showing off her lovely castle home.

In the center of the castle is a wide, marble staircase with sturdy, dark wood banisters that leads to several upper floors. As I reached the second floor, I looked up to see another white banister stairway that led to a large dome skylight decorated with maroon hearts which added to a feeling of 19th century elegance.

Construction is ongoing and some rooms are furnished. Although there is no fixed date, another guide told me construction will be completed to as close as possible to the original building sketches designed by the castle’s architect, William Hewitt, who also designed, the Boldt-owned, Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia.

Today the castle hosts area concerts and private parties. Boldt Castle reflects a 19th century tragic love story. Now a beautiful mansion, its whimsical spirit reaches out to touch all those who enter its portals. 

 

 

Joan Fox Rose is a freelance writer living in Saratoga County.

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