Heart Island was purchased for a mere $1.00, by Louise Boldt from Edward Wallace Dewey, on July 1, 1895. Dewey purchased the estate only 11 days earlier for $10,000.
At the turn of the century, the most exclusive club in the world was the Thousand Islands Club on Wellesley Island.
The initiation fee was $100,000 and the annual fee was $10,000.
The term ‘1000 islands’ is not quite accurate. There are actually 1,864 islands and 3,000 shoals extending along an approximate 80-mile stretch in the St. Lawrence River between New York State and Ontario, Canada. The highest concentration of islands are clustered near the 1000 Islands Bridge between Alexandria Bay, New York and Ivy Lea, Ontario. In fact, one of the islands, called ‘Lounge Island,’ is artificial. The owner filled in the area between two shoals and built his house on it. To become an official part of the count, an island must meet two criteria: it must be above water 365 days a year and it must support two living trees.
In 1900 George Boldt tore down the old summer ‘cottage’ and began building Boldt Castle. He added a lagoon, altered the shape of the island into a ‘heart-shape’, and changed the spelling from ‘Hart Island,’ named after the previous owner Elizur Hart,
to ‘Heart Island’, which it remains today.
During the first winter that the Boldt’s owned Heart Island, caretakers George and Myrtie Edgerly Campbell became parents to a baby girl, Gertrude, who was born to them right there on
The male deer, or stags, which can be seen throughout the island and sitting high atop the Peristyle, are known as ‘harts. ‘The ‘hart’ is a symbol of George Boldt’s European lineage as well as being part of the family coat-of-arms.
Heart Island has been host to some spectacular fireworks displays over the years. In August of 1938, almost 20,000 people gathered to witness the $2,500 display of fireworks celebrating the dedication of the Thousand Island Bridge. Almost a year later, on August 6, 1939 another fireworks display ended with the complete destruction, by fire, of the roof of the Power House, Clock and Chimes Towers.
The carved-stone ‘Shell Fountain’, which resides in the beautiful Italian Gardens on the south side of the island, was not originally intended for that placement. Originally there were two, large carved shells – one on each side of the Arch. Over the years vandals destroyed or stole many of the architectural elements on the island and these were lost as well. Over 70 years later, the Thousand Island Bridge Authority found one of them, still intact, on the bottom of the Heart Island Lagoon and incorporated it into the ‘wishing well’ that it is now.
The stained-glass dome skylight hanging high above the grand staircase inside Boldt Castle, contains over 6,000 pieces of hand-cut art glass and over a mile of lead came. The smallest piece of glass is no larger than the tip of your ‘pinkie’, and the largest is hand-sized.
George Boldt owned the stone quarries that supplied the stone used in building the castle, and he owned the sand-pits that supplied sand which was mixed into the mortar mixture holding the stone together. The massive granite blocks were cut so accurately, and with such precision, that when they arrived at their final resting spots from their location on ‘Oak Island’ (ten miles down river) – not a single stone needed alterations.
‘Deer Island’, in the 1000 Islands region, is owned by the ‘Skull and Bones Society’ of Yale University, whose members include former President George Bush. ‘Price is Right Island’ was given away in 1964 by Bill Cullen on the Price is Right television show and ‘Ash Island’ has its own private railroad which runs from the boathouse to a home on the cliff. The owner uses it for personal transportation and for hauling supplies.
George Boldt did not believe ‘luck’ played a part in a persons success or failure in life. To emphasis this conviction, he deliberately flaunted such alleged portenders of woe as the number ’13’. He used it constantly throughout his life. George Boldt was 13 when he came to the U.S. The Boldt’s home was 1313 Locust Street. His office during construction of the Waldorf Hotel was #13 W. Thirty Third Street. The Waldorf was 13 stories high, he included in his roster 13 busboys, waiters, and bellhops. He also had a thirteenth floor – a custom often omitted by other hotel builders. In addition he saw to it that the Waldorf had 13 entrances and 13 elevators. His own suite of rooms was number 1313 on the 13th level. His daughter was born in room #13 in Berkeley, New Jersey.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is the world’s longest, unfortified and friendliest border. There has been peace between the US and Canada since the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815 ending the War of 1812.
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