Photos of castle and other buildings


Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Gift of Love

Page 1



The Love Story

George Boldt Louise Boldt


George Boldt was born in Prussia in 1851 and came alone to America when he was in his teens.  After a few disappointments, he began working his way up in the hotel business.  He married Louise Augusta Keher, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1877.  He was 26 and she was 15.  The lovely, fragile Louise Boldt was the love of her husband's life.  It was said by his granddaughter that he thought of his wife as a 'beautiful princess'. The couple had two children; a son, George Jr., was born in 1879 and a daughter, Louise Clover Boldt was born in 1883.


It was from the hotel business that George Boldt would amassed his fortune.  In 1881 he purchased property in Philadelphia which he developed into the Bellevue Hotel.  Louise Boldt was active in her husband's hotel business, not only as hostess but also in supervising the hotel's service.  In 1888 Mr. Boldt purchased a building across the street and developed it into the Stratford Hotel.  In later years the Stratford would be torn down and replaced by George Boldt's famous Bellevue-Stratford Hotel.  In 1893 when William Waldorf Astor built the Waldorf Hotel in New York City, George Boldt became its manager.  Louise Boldt assisted her husband in purchasing furnishing from Europe and oversaw the placement of the purchases in the Waldorf Hotel.  It was Louise Boldt who helped make the Waldorf Hotel the gigantic success that it was in the 1890's.  Within five years the hotel was so successful that it was necessary that it be expanded.  John Jacob Astor, William Waldorf Astor's cousin, built the second half of the hotel which then became know as the Waldorf-Astoria.  George Boldt then managed both of the hotels, and did so until the time of his death in 1916.  

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The old original wooden cottage on Heart Island before the castle was built
* The Old Wooden "Cottage"
This photo also shows the original tunnel entrance

at the water's edge close to the Servant's Dock.

During the Summer of 1893 the Boldt family spent a weekend in Alexandria Bay, New York.  They fell in love with the area and returned again the following year.  Then in July of 1895 Heart Island (formerly called 'Hart' Island, and previously Hemlock Island) became the property of the Boldt family, more specifically it was deeded to Louise Boldt.  On the five acre island, just off shore from Alexandria Bay, was an impressive wooden "cottage".  It was  a towered structure of eighty rooms, constructed of granite and wood.  George, Louise and their children; (Louise Clover age 11,and George Jr. age 16 at the time the island was first purchased) spent several summers in 
in the original "cottage".  A great deal of remodeling was done to the structure  as well as to the island itself, which Mr. Boldt had altered to make it more into the shape of a heart.  Numerous other structures were built on the island including the Hennery and Dove-Cote, dog kennels, Alster Tower, a stone arch called the Arch of Honor which was the centerpiece of the Peristyle, a covered dock, a gazebo, and extensive flower gardens.  The Boldts entertained many influential guests at their beautiful island estate in the Thousand Islands including the Banker's Association, the Attorney General and the Postmaster General.


Servant's Dock and Apartments (no longer exists)
* The Servant's Dock & Apartments
can be seen in the lower left of this old postcard.  

This dock no longer exists.
The servants of George and Louise Boldt  also had comfortable living quarters.  Attached to their covered dock area for both power and row boats was a smaller castle like building which housed apartments and a club house for their recreational use.  The building was over 100 feet long and faced Wellesley Island.  This dock is where supplies for the castle were unloaded.  Originally there was an entrance to the underground tunnel at the servants' dock.  Supplies were taken from barges and were transported by way of the tunnel to storage rooms in the Castle's foundation level.  This made it 
unnecessary for servants to carry supplies through the main floor rooms.  (The Servant's Dock and Apartments no longer exists.  They were originally  where the public docks, the concession building and U.S. Customs building are now.)


In September of 1899 it became known that George Boldt planned to build a castle on Heart Island.  It was to be a gift of love for his cherished Louise and he planned to present it to her on Valentine's Day, her birthday.  All work was to be done by the finest of artists and master craftsmen, landscape gardeners, electricians and masons, all using the very best materials.  Money would be no object.  The wooden "cottage", originally known as *Hart House, was removed from the island in sections.  Part of it was slid across the frozen ice of the river to Wellesley Island.  Work began in 1900 and the Power House with its clock and chimes tower was built.  This structure would provide electricity for the island and the castle.  The Boldts spent their summers in Alster Tower while work was progressing on the castle.  In January of 1904, after four yeas of building, work on the castle was nearing completion and was finished as far a the interior woodwork.  From Europe sculptures, carving, mosaics, and tapestries had been purchased to adorn the walls for this extraordinary gift of love. 


Then a telegram arrived ordering all work stopped.  Just one month before she would have been 42,  Louise Augusta Kehrer Boldt, George Boldt's beloved wife, was dead of a heart attack.  The planning, the hammering and the building stopped as "three hundred workmen dropped their tools and left the island, never to return".  The castle was left unfinished with fountains, sculptures, Italian mantelpieces, imported tapestries and fine furniture, some of which was already on the island stored in crates, never reaching their destination in the mansion.  It is said that George Boldt never set foot on the island again.  George Boldt died on December 5, 1916 at the Waldorf-Astoria.


Mr. Boldt was the proprietor and owner of the
Bellevue-Stratford hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(The Bellevue-Stratford is now the Park Hyatt At The Bellevue)
He was president of other numerous companies, a member of  a number of organizations, 
a trustee of  insurance companies, and a hospital, a director of several banks as well as
a trustee of Cornell University at Ithaca, New York.



     Mr. Boldt also managed the Waldorf  Hotel for William Waldorf Astor, whose cousin,   
John Jacob Astor IV later built a second half to the hotel.  It then became known as
the world famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel of  New York.
The Waldorf-Astoria is now a Hilton Hotel.
John Jacob Astor died at age 47 on the Titanic.


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As a child, I fell in love with a deserted castle on an island in the Saint Lawrence River.  To this day, the river, the island, and especially the castle still hold a fascination for me.  Being a hopeless romantic, this is my small tribute to that castle, Boldt Castle, and to the man and woman, George and Louise Boldt, who would have lived and loved there, had their dream ever come true.


Outside the servants' dinning area Outside Servants Dining Area 

uring the summers, when I was a child my family always took our relatives from out of state sight-seeing in the 1000 Islands.  We would visit Clayton and Alexandria Bay and often take a boat cruise.  I do not know how old I was the first time I set foot on Heart Island and saw Boldt Castle, but it  was "love at first sight" although it was mixed with a sense of haunting sadness, not only for the sad story of George and Louise Boldt, but for the once majestic, now sorrowfully neglected island castle. This once magnificent, yet unfinished castle had been left to the harshness of the elements;  to water erosion, rain, snow and fire, and to man; vandals, thieves and the unfortunate, but necessary iron and steel salvage needs of World War II, for far too many years, since 1904.  At the time of my  first visit the sad castle had been left deserted and unfinished for well over 55 years.


Although the building was in a pitiful state, I could never get enough of visiting the castle, nor could I ever find enough information written about it.  Over the years I have visited it many times and wandered the grounds and the rooms.  Once my son was old enough I took him to see this impressive sight and now  he too loves the island and the castle.  He will soon introduce his wife to our special place.  I always wanted to know more about the  castle and see more pictures but I could never find the photos and information I hoped to find.   I hope this web site will give other castle lovers and romantics, like me, a better look at Boldt Castle and a little more information about it.


Another photo outside the servants' dinning area Another photo outside servants' dinning area


View of castle showing dinningroom windows and porch Outside View of the Castle


Boldt Castle has thankfully, changed a great deal since my first visit when my mother, my relatives and I walked through its melancholy, dark and deteriorating rooms.  Then we stepped over steel beams lying on the cracked and dirty floors still covered with plaster dust, viewed formally elegant fireplaces crumbling away from neglect and looked out of  windows that had no glass.  For 73 years Boldt Castle continued to waste away until finally a champion emerged. 




The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired Boldt Castle in 1977.  The Authority has invested well over $14 million rehabilitating and restoring the island and its various structures.  The window glass has been replaced, lighting has been installed, the grounds have been landscaped and the roofs have been redone.  The reception room, billiard room and dining room have been restored.  

The reception room  The Reception Room


Power House also called the Water Castle

The Power House

The Power  House (Clock & Chimes Tower) has also been restored, after being completely ruined by fires.  (The first time I saw it, it had no roof and was closed to the public.)  Now tourists cross over the beautiful arched stone bridge to wander through the structure and brides and grooms pose for photos after being married on romantic Heart Island!


The Gazebo  View of the Gazebo

AA gazebo on the grounds has been rebuilt where many wedding are now held each summer and the grand staircase which for years had been a wooden replacement, has now been replaced with a marble staircase.  During the Spring of 2001 the Bridge Authority installed a stained-glass dome,  as well as replacing the hart (deer) sculpture on top of the Arch. 


Arch of Honor

The Arch of Honor would have been the centerpiece of the Peristyle.



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Map of the island

Map of Heart Island

8.  THE YACHT HOUSE  (across the water on    Wellesley Island)

For all of you who have e-mailed me and suggested that I include a little more information regarding hours and rates and telephone numbers, especially with regard to weddings, here is the information, along with a map.  Thanks for all the positive e-mails and for signing the guest book.  I appreciate it!  ~ Lois

Hours & Admission for Boldt Castle:
(Year 2008)

May 17th to October 13th, 18th & 19th 2008 from 10 a.m. 'til 6:30 p.m.  July & August 'til 7:30 p.m. Open until 5:30 PM October 18 and 19.  
Adults $6.50, Children (Ages 6-12) $4.00, US Funds

      Hours & Admission for Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island: (Year 2008)     

May 17th to September 28, 2008 - 10:00 a.m. 'til 6:30 p.m.

 $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for children ages 6-12


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Area Map


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~ For Wedding & Other Information: ~

Please DO NOT contact me by email requesting I mail you information.  This site is just a my hobby.  It is not an official site and I am sorry but I have no information to send out.  Please call the phone number below or write to the address listed.  They will be glad to help you with any information you need.  There is also a link for more wedding information.  ~ Thanks!

Contact by Phone:    315-482-2501

Contact by Mail:         Thousand Islands Bridge Authority -  P.O. Box 428 -  Alexandria Bay, New York 13607



For more on Boldt Castle including many more photos,
please click on the "Page 2" link below.
Page 2 Link

This site designed and maintained by:

and is dedicated in loving memory of my mother:
Louise M Boyce
  Page design & graphics Copyrighted 1998-99, 2000-08  Lois A. Flack  

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