– of George & Louise Boldt –
The story of Boldt Castle and Heart Island is a tragic love story. It speaks of the remarkable love a man had for his wife, and the great lengths he would go to create a monument of his love and adoration for her.
George Boldt was born in Prussia in 1851 and emmigrated to America when he was only 13. He started working in a hotel kitchen and quickly worked his way up in the hotel business. He met, fell in love with and married Louise Kehrer.
The lovely Louise Boldt was the absolute love of her husbands life – he thought of her as a princess. They had two children, Charles Jr. in 1879 and Louise Clover in 1883.
George Boldt when on to amass a fortune in the hotel business, owning and operating such world-famous hotels such as the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, and the Stratford Hotel (later to become the Bellevue-Stratford. In 1893 when William Waldorf Astor built his Waldorf Hotel in New York City, George Boldt managed it.
Louise Boldt was a constant companion to her husband and helped out with the hotels whenever she could. She made sure that all of the bedrooms were decorated with such ‘luxuries’ as pincushions, and she had fresh flowers placed in every room as well as a candle.
George and Louise seemed like the perfect match, with his hotel interests and Louise’s background being hostess of her father’s famous Philadelphia Club, they both played an instrumental role in making the Waldorf Hotel the breathless wonder it was in the 1890’s.
In 1893 the Boldt Family vacationed in Alexandria Bay and immediately fell in love with the area, and returned again the following year.
George Boldt imagined his wife, a beautiful princess in a castle. He imagined her walking down a grand staircase in grand-style, and wanted to build that for her, and present it to her on valentine’s day – as a tribute to his love for her. He was going to make that dream a reality.
In 1900, construction began on Boldt Castle. Over 300 of the finest stone masons and craftsmen were hired, and worked on the castle ten-hours each day (for only $1.50)
The army of workmen didn’t overlook a single detail called for in this monumental work of architecture that was to be George Boldt’s gift to Louise.
Four years had passed since work on this new ‘summer house’ had begun. It was nearing completion in January of 1904, when tragedy struck.
Louise Boldt was dead.
A heart-broken George couldn’t bear to think of the castle without her. He immediately telegrammed the construction foreman on the island, and ordered that construction on the island stop.
The island fell into an eerie silence, as 300 workers put down their hammers and went home. The work was never finished.
As long as he lived, George Boldt never again stepped foot on Heart Island.