Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island, one of the best known of the famous 1000 Islands. Heart Island can be found on the St. Lawrence River, off the northern border of New York. Boldt Castle owes its popularity in part to its stunning architecture and in part to its intriguing history.
In 1900, George Boldt, millionaire proprietor and general manager of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC, initiated the construction of an enterprising 6 storey masonry castle on Heart Island. The structure was to be a monument of his love for his wife.
Prior to this, Boldt and his family had owned a more modest frame cottage on the island. Sadly, building was immediately stopped in 1904 when Boldt’s wife died. He never again returned to the island and this marked the end of construction for 73 long years. During that time, the castle and many other structures on the island fell into a state of disrepair. Not only were the buildings subjected to harsh weather, but many fell victim to vandals.
It wasn’t until 1977 that island was saved. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought Heart Island for a mere dollar. The condition was that all proceeds from the castle would go toward restoring the buildings and the island to their state when construction stopped. Over three decades and millions of dollars later, Boldt Castle has not only been restored to its previous state, but many contemporary additions have been made, like a marble floor and stain glass dome ceiling.
Out of the 6 floors, only the first is totally furnished, though many of the rooms on the second floor have been furnished as well. The furnishings are all modern and include pictures of what Heart Island looked like during the time of the Boldts. Guests are also welcome to explore the unfurnished floors and see what Boldt Castle looked like prior to modern intervention. The basement is only partially furnished, though what has been completed includes a pool and bowling lanes.
In addition to Boldt Castle, Heart Island is also host to many special events, including annual wine festivals, farmers markets, and firework displays.
Tourists can take a ferry to Boldt Castle from Gananoque, Ontario; Alexandria Bay, New York; Rockport, Ontario or Ivy Lea, Ontario. For a small fee, visitors are welcome to tour the buildings and grounds. People who own boats are invited to dock at Heart Island for free. No pets are permitted on the island, with the exception of service animals.