A Beauty Left Behind: Boldt Castle

Some of the world’s most beautiful places are there in whole or in part due to a love story. The Taj Mahal is one example of this. Boldt Castle is another.

In sixth grade, I took a simple reading class as an elective. The class basically consisted of a bunch of kids lying around reading books of our choice and occasionally doing a brief project on what we’d read. Needless to say, it was my favorite class. At the end of the year, the teacher let us choose books to take home from a huge bin of old discards from the library. One of the books I picked was a 1969 children’s mystery paperback, Secret Castle by Anne Colver. The fictional story took place in the real-life setting of the Thousand Islands archipelago in the Northern United States and Canada. The “secret castle” in question is Boldt Castle. The real-life story behind it is mentioned in the book and it’s quite the tearjerker (or at least I think so!). George Boldt, then the owner of a couple of famous hotels (including the Waldorf-Astoria), began construction on a castle on the heart-shaped Heart Island in 1900. The castle was to be a glorious symbol of his love for his wife, Louise. But then tragedy struck in 1904:

“Boldt telegraphed the island and commanded the workers to immediately “stop all construction.” Louise had died suddenly. A broken hearted Boldt could not imagine his dream castle without his beloved. Boldt never returned to the island, leaving behind the structure as a monument of his love.”
-Retrieved from “History” at the Official Boldt Castle website:

This terribly sad story has left behind one gorgeous landmark in Alexandria Bay, New York. I would love to see it someday. If you are interested in learning more about Boldt Castle, check out the official website, which offers pictures and descriptions, history, a virtual tour, and plenty of visitor info for planning a trip: Official Boldt Castle Website: Alexandria Bay, NY in the Heart of the Thousand Islands.


11 responses to “A Beauty Left Behind: Boldt Castle

  1. Sounds like a neat place to go visit. Did your parents approve of you being in that class in the 6th grade? Sounds a bit cushy! 🙂 Another place to put on The List!

    • Ha ha! Well, I’m sure you probably wondered what we actually did in that class … I think I did one project the whole time. The goal of the class seemed to be to get more kids to read …. I think it worked 🙂

  2. Hey, I grew up in TI and it was basically a tradition to go on a tour there every year and we used to have a “Boat Dance” that took us around the St Lawrence and the castle. I thought maybe I could tell you some extra things about it. =]
    Before Boldt had bought the island, it had been called Hart Island (Named after the man who owned it before if I remember correctly.) but Boldt renamed it Heart Island, they say for Louise. Like you said, after his wife died, Boldt stopped construction. But, he also said that the castle was never to be completed, that’s the saddest part I think, and no one related to him could go in the castle. I think that he was implying his children but I’m not sure. The castle was left alone for years and years, somewhere around 73 or 74. (According to my dad, he and his friends used to swim, boat, or walk across the ice out there to write on the walls.)
    An association in TI, I’d have to look up the name, bought the place for 1 dollar in 1977. They restored most of it making it somewhat of a museum in some rooms, furnishing a lot of them, and leaving some un-finished as Boldt wished. They also left some of the graffiti which is fun to look at because most of it is very old. (Like my dad =] ) Along with Boldt castle there are a bunch of smaller buildings like the Aster House, and what was planned to be the children’s Playhouse, and a boat house on another island. I’ve always loved Boldt Castle as a kid and still go there in the summers. I especially love when people get married there, besides the fact that it’s beautiful, just the history is romantic.
    You can take boats there on Uncle Sam Boat Tours or if you have your one boat. They also have some tours that also go to Singer Castle which also has an amazing and somewhat funny history, and until recently was someone’s summer house.
    Hope this helped anyone who wants to go there. =]

    • Thank you, LuLu! That was all very interesting and I’m sure it will be very helpful to me and anyone else who would like to visit. I did not realize that some of the graffiti had been left. Have you or your dad ever checked to see if any of his writing is still there? That’s pretty cool.

  3. I used to go to Boldt Castle when I was a little kid, I think I went there twice and I went back when I was 13. That castle gives me a lot of memories and it’s a very beautiful place to visit. I didn’t know there was a book based on the castle, that’s how I found this site. I’d be interested in reading it

    • Thanks Deidre! It’s a pretty old paperback children’s book – but I bet if you search for it on Alibris.com or Amazon.com you can find a copy. I thought it was cool that an author decided to base a story around it. I would really love to see it myself some day.

  4. HI,
    imagine my surprise while looking for some information about this book and coming across your blog. I received a stack of old books and this was one of them. My 13 year old just picked it up in place of a “boring” book about the war, lol… So she started reading and I started researching. I love the Thousand Islands but have never been there. I go to Maine with a girlfriend every other year or so. We love Damariscotta. We have talked about going to the TI. If we do, I will surely go to Boldt Castle…
    Thanks for the insight!!
    p.s. equally interesting that 2 Deidre’s found you!

    • Hello second Deidre (I agree, that is very cool),

      I am glad the post was helpful. I would love to visit Boldt Castle myself. Very neat that a small book about it written a long time ago lead us both to do more research!

      Thanks for your comment and for subscribing to my blog!

  5. We finished the book last night. Clara did her report and loved the story. I loved that the librarian in the book was a real person/librarian and they used her real name, Mrs. McDonell… Our book is a hard back and it is a first edition. I was excited about that as we are book collectors. Now I have to go through the rest of our books to see what treasures we might find. That is how we travel sometimes.
    Take care!

  6. although, i don’t fully buy into the whole Boldt love story. I was in the 1000 islands last week and the locals said it was a must see,so we charted an Uncle Sam boat (cost $38.00 for 2 adults) it was called the 2 nation tour. It went into canada(no passport requried) The cruise is a 2 1/2 hour lovely boat ride.Final destination Boldt castle(cost $16.00 for 2 adults) which includes 2 souvenir tickets. The nice part is that it’s a self guided tour, which means you can take as little or as long as you want to go through the grounds & castle and when your finished you just board an uncle sam boat to go back to alexandria(boats are frequent and go until 7 pm)

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