Like an ancient landmark of northern Europe, the castle is modeled after buildings of the 16th century, when newly revived classical details were applied to the towered, medieval forms, combining traditional elements with modern features such as large, plate glass windows and extensive verandas.
Rising six stories from the foundation level of the indoor swimming pool to the highest tower room, an elevator served over 120 rooms. Steel and concrete roofs and floors provided fireproof construction. Massive granite walls were richly ornamented with decorative details of cast terra cotta, and roofs were tiled with the same material. (They are now reclad in a similar manner.)
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Perhaps suggested by some old defense tower on the Alster River, flowing through Hamburg Germany, this curious mini-castle probably was not pre-designed (for it would be nearly impossible to describe the irregular forms on paper). Most likely it was improvised in a highly personal manner, evolving as it rose. Probably George Boldt himself was the real author of this imaginative and eccentric creation. His wife, Louise, shared his keen interest and great enthusiasm for these projects. Unlike the main residence, this whimsical “play house” was completed and occasionally occupied by the Boldt Family (parents, son, and daughter), during the years when the Castle was being erected.
Visit Alster Tower
Power House, Clock & Chimes Tower
The Boldt’s intended to electrify the island when they aquired it, and their architects designed this facility where coal, brought by barge, would fire steam generators, within a diminutive towered chateau. An arched, stone bridge originally connected the Power House to the island, and the highest tower provided river traffic with illuminated clock faces and the music of chimes.
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Heart Island Gazebo
Set against a backdrop of beautiful trees, sparkling waters of the St. Lawrence River, and Boldt Castle itself, the Gazebo seems a perfect setting for a romantic summer wedding. With gentle breezes blowing softly across the island, and with plenty of space for a reception, it is no wonder that Heart Island hosts between
45-50 weddings each season.
Visit The Heart Island Gazebo
Boldt Family Boat House
Located across the water on Wellesley Island, the boat house houses the family’s three yachts and enormous houseboat, (with tall masts and rigging standing) in slips 128 feet long. The main space rises 64 feet and the high doors were so heavy that an engine was required to move them. Quarters for crews and maintenance staff were adjacent, as was a shop where racing launches were built and serviced. The Yacht House was the first of these remarkable buildings ro be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Long before Boldt Castle was even a thought in the mind of George Boldt, a grand summer cottage known as Hart House brought great prominence to the 1000 Islands area as the rich and famous discovered this splendid vacation paradise.
In 1872, Elizur Kirke Hart spent $10,000 to build the 80-room summer cottage he called the Hart House.
When Mr. Hart died and the property was obtained by the Boldt’s in 1895, they spent several summer’s there making improvements on the cottage and beautifying the island grounds.
In 1899, George Boldt slid the old summer ‘cottage,’ across the frozen St. Lawrence River, to make room for his new summer home, which he called Boldt Castle.
Part of the old cottage was used to build the 50-room estate Mr. Boldt called ‘The Wellesley House,’ where the family stayed while the castle was being built. Read much more inside…
Visit Hart House
Once upon a time, before Boldt Castle was even a wisp of a dream, a grand summer cottage, known as Hart House, brought great prominence to the 1000 Islands as the rich and famous discovered this treasured vacation paradise.
In 1899 the summer cottage was slipped across the frozen St. Lawrence River to Wellesley Island as a part of the very exclusive Thousand Islands Club: private domain for the incredibly wealthy. With an initiation fee of $100,000 and $10,000 yearly dues, in turn-of-the-century dollars, that was “a lot” of money!
Visit The Summer Cottage
Wellesley Island Farms
The Wellesley Island Farm was comprised of several tracts of land, which were purchased by George Boldt for the express purpose of creating a model farm. It would grow to become one of the finest farms in the east. This farm was massive and production was such that it supplied Boldt’s New York and Philadelphia hotels, the Waldorf-Astoria and the Bellevue-Stratford, as well as the Boldt family and their many guests and servants.
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Louise Kehrer Boldt, born in Philadelphia, was daughter of a German-born tavern keeper there. William Kehrer became Steward of the exclusive Philadelphia Club, the oldest men’s club in the United States. Kehrer engaged Boldt as his assistant. When George married Louise, wealthy members of the club assisted them in establishing a small hotel in Philadelphia, the Bellevue.
Founded in 1834, the Philadelphia Club originally began as a coffee House and is the oldest city men’s club in the country, followed by New York and Boston. The clubhouse building moved from Mrs. Rubicam’s Coffee House and Mrs. Arney’s Coffee House, to the Adelphi Building in 1834, to the Bonaparte House in 1835, to the Hemphill House in 1884, and to the Butler House in 1849. “Wherever situated, whether the old Adelphi Building, or in the Bonaparte House, or at 919 Walnut, or where it has stood for eighty-five years, the Club has always been within fifteen to twenty minutes walk from the town houses of those gentlemen who met to play cards at Mrs. Rubicam’s Coffee House in 1830.”
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Merchants Exchange Hotel
George Charles Boldt was born in Prussia, 1851. Determined to make something of his life, he made his way to New York City as teenager sometime in the 1860’s. Virtually penniless when he arrived, the only work that he could find was as a dishwasher at the Merchant’s Exchange Hotel. He worked there for awhile until, hearing claims that others were striking it rich by heading west, he packed up and headed out to Texas to try his hand at cattle ranching for awhile.
When George Boldt married Louise Kehrer, wealthy members of the Philadelphia Club, where George worked, assisted them in establishing a small hotel in Philadelphia called the Bellevue.
The Boldts’ Bellevue, a small boutique hotel mostly a restaurant, quickly became famous for its food. The Boldts shipped their Philadelphia Terrapin to Queen Victoria. Astors and Vanderbilts visited from New York City, which led to selection of George Boldt to be proprietor of a new hotel William Waldorf Astor was to build in New York City, which would be the finest in America.
The Bellevue-Stratford opened its doors in 1904 and became known worldwide as Philadelphia’s pre-eminent hotel, nicknamed “The Grande Dame of Broad Street.” Famed hotelier George C. Boldt (he also managed the Waldorf-Astoria in New York) wanted to build the best hotel of its time—and he did.
Designed in the French Renaissance style, The Bellevue features Gilded Age architectural flourishes including a magnificent two-tiered ballroom with delicate light fixtures designed by Thomas Alva Edison, stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany, chandeliers by Lalique and a celebrated cast-iron circular staircase. Many of these flourishes remain and make it the marvel that it is.
Visit The Bellevue Stratford
For over a century the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York has reigned as a symbol of the grandeur of the American dream. It all began when William Waldorf Astor razed his home at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street to construct the Waldorf, a magnificent hostelry that, when it opened on 13 March 1893, boasted 450 rooms and an army of nearly 1,000 employees. The Waldorf hosted the most famous of guests and the most elegant of society functions (after John Jacob Astor IV built the Astoria next door in 1897, the two hotels were run jointly as the Waldorf-Astoria) until it was closed on 3 May 1929 to make way for what would become the world’s most famous skyscraper, the Empire State Building.
A new Waldorf-Astoria was constructed on the block extending from Park Avenue to Lexington, between Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets and opened in 1931. Although it was William Waldorf Astor who conceived and financed the opulent Waldorf Hotel, it was the Waldorf’s first manager, George C. Boldt, who established the premiere level of service for which the Waldorf (and later the Waldorf-Astoria) became world-renowned.
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Empire State Building
The present site of the Empire State Building was first developed as the John Thomson Farm in the late 18th century. At the time, a stream ran across the site, emptying into Sunfish Pond, located a block away. The block was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the late 19th century, and was frequented by The Four Hundred, the social elite of New York.
Visit The Empire State Building
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