|Heart Island, North Shore|
George Boldt came to America in the 1860’s from Prussia, the son of poor parents. A man of tremendous organizational skills, daring and imagination, he became the most successful hotel magnate in America, managing /profit sharing the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, and the Bellevue-Stratton in Philadelphia.
As a testimony to the immense love he had for his wife, Louise, Boldt set out to build an elaborate summer home for her. He purchased Hart Island, then changed it’s shape to more resemble a heart, and changed the spelling of the name of the island. Boldt purchased another nearby island to mine granite for its construction so that all of the granite blocks would be matching in color and pattern.
In 1904, before construction was complete, Louise died. On her death, Boldt ordered construction to stop, sending all 300 workers home, never to return. George Bolt never returned to Heart Island. The outside of the castle was completed, but the interior remained unfinished. The home stood abandoned for 73 years.
In 1977, a private road organization, The Thousand Island Bridge Authority, purchased Boldt Castle. The Authority is maintaining the property and finishing the interior to preserve this romantic story and amazing construction project. It is operated as a museum, a very popular one. There is a long dock for tour boats to dock, which also houses a United States Customs Office for the Canadian and other foreign visitors to enter the U.S. for the time it takes to tour the Castle. Heart Island is less than a half mile south of the Canadian border. The long dock can be seen in the lead photo. At the right end of the photo, you can see Last Dance, an appropriately historically significant boat to be at the dock.
|Heart Island, South Shore|
The main building’s architecture was modeled after 16th century European castles, with intricate, classical details, towers, and medieval forms combined with modern features such as large, plate glass windows and extensive verandas. Rising six stories from the indoor swimming pool to the highest tower room, an elevator served 127 rooms.
The main foyer is three stories tall, with ladings on the second and third floors, a grand staircase, and topped with a stained glass dome.
The first floor of this summer cottage has marble and wood floors in rooms for entertaining and gatherings, including a ballroom, music room, game room, den, and living room.
The second floor has chambers (bedrooms) for the Bolts and their daughter and a number of guest chambers. Photos are of the Bolts personal chambers.
On an island north of Heart Island, Boldt built his boat house, which is large enough for the three Boldt yachts, including the houseboat, with interior slips 128 feet long and doors 64 feet tall to fit the sailing yacht. Today, the boat house is home to some of the Wooden Boat Museum’s collection, including This, the other of the Bolt runabouts. This had two other owners, one naming her Yesterday.
Lying at the dock of the boathouse is the Boldt steam launch. The original steam engine and boiler are on display inside the boathouse.
The boathouse also has living spaces as one might want to linger at the boathouse, and housing for crew and maintenance staff.
The arch, modeled after Roman monuments, provided a formal water gate for launches, delivering guest from larger yachts anchored in deep water, friends from other islands, and visitors from the mainland.
The playhouse is a whimsical design built more by intuition and imagination than formal plans. It provided places for both the adults and children to play. This building was finished and the Boldt family lived in the Playhouse at times during the construction of the castle. The basement housed a two-lane bowling alley.
The architect designed a mini-castle to house the power generating plant. Gas and diesel fuel were to be used for generating steam to power turbines generating electricity. The highest tower provided river traffic with illuminated clock faces and musical chimes.
Of course, gardens were important to people of those times and social status. The gardens and grounds are being maintained in the appropriate traditions.