The Beauty of the Gilded Age: Boldt Castle

Stories of Boldt Castle kept coming back to me. I wanted to go. Grandma told stories of taking mom to the castle long ago. Back in those years all furniture and paintings, and any signs of life were long gone…

It was ghostly-looking and crumbling.

The Umpire and I went to Heart Island on the Clayton Island Tours. The tour was 3+ hours long and we hummed along the Canadian line, as well as the mysterious Lost Channel. It was a beautiful tour of the river, headed by a friendly guide. We went places on the river where the big boats couldn’t go. Eventually we stopped at the Heart Island dock for a 1½-hour self-guided tour of the castle.

George C Boldt came from Prussia and was the son of poor parents, yet he was a man full of ambition, imagination, and had tremendous organizational skills.

Boldt became a most successful hotel magnate, managing and profit-sharing the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia. He was once a trustee of Cornell University, and provided anonymously, a college education for 75 young men.


Rock Island Lighthouse.
Osprey Nest

Mr. Boldt purchased the island from a man named Hart, and changed the name to Heart Island. Alster tower (the playhouse), was built first. To me it looks like a sand castle that was built by dripping watery-sand from above. This is where the family lived while the castle was being built.

Lumpy and mysterious…


The arch with stags on top

The castle was built in the Rhineland style common in Germany, with 120 rooms, including a billiards room, ballroom and reception room, as well as bedrooms, servant’s quarters and kitchen.

Portrait of Louise
A likeness of the children was carved into the fireplace.
Mr. Boldt’s room

I love this stove in the kitchen
Dining Room


Boldt castle was begun as a gift for his wife, but when Louise died suddenly in 1904, the work was stopped and never completed, though the plans were complete and kept to this day. Boldt never returned to Heart Island.

Mark Twain wrote a book called The Gilded Age, about the era in which he lived. He had plenty to say about politics and wealth.  Mr. Boldt worked hard for his wealth; sadly no amount of money could bring back his wife Louise.


Though I can’t imagine living that life style, I appreciate the Thousand Island Bridge Authority for raising money to maintain this beautiful work of art.

Can you imagine living in the middle of a wonderful river and with water all around you? Think of sleeping with the windows open at night to hear the waves splashing; the birds calling…


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