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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Captain Visger House

After our hot and humid morning at Sackets Harbor, we were on the road again to the small town of Alexandria Bay.  I love small towns, and was impressed by the tender care of the old homes.  It is a welcoming town with many eateries lining the streets, as well as tourist and local artisan shops.

The real treat was Captain Visger B & B we found on the end of Church St. This old Victorian house sat on the corner and walking distance from the viewing park of the St. Lawrence River.

The owner “Sam” has an amazing array of antiques in the dining area. Also provided are old books and leaflets for reading local history. Sam is a very friendly face and loves to talk about food. In fact, she’s passionate about it!

We stayed in the Ella Room on the main floor. A beautifully furnished “bird room” which you can see on the website:

https://www.captainvisgerhouse.com

 

Just off the dining area is a small bar where you can enjoy drinks during the day or while waiting for dinner. If you happen to be coming and going during the day, you may smell some fantastic aromas coming from the kitchen.

Sam cooks homemade, local, organic scrumptious foods. Breakfast is so filling you can save half for your lunch. I didn’t think to take a photo of my yogurt and berries, I was too overcome with the taste! But here is my frittata and muffin.

Tuesday night we ate dinner on the patio. I ate fresh perch, lightly dipped in cornmeal and fried, along with zoodles, (zucchini noodles).

Dinner is not served every night, but if you plan to come, Sam would love for you to make a reservation ahead to make dining more enjoyable.

Alexandria Bay has so many opportunities for views of Boldt Castle and tours are just down the road from Capt. Visger’s House.

It’s amazing that we lived on Lake Ontario for ten years and never took time to head up around the lake. Even from where we live now it was only a 3-hour drive. I hope we can make it again, and definitely would stay here again—the food is out of this world!