Day Six – Castle Tours

Trip Start Jul 28, 2012
Trip End Aug 04, 2012

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Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, August 2, 2012

We awoke at 5:00 and I quickly went down to the dock to get some sunrise pictures. Kim and I were the first to get to the Main cabin, so we awoke the rest of the families.  The first boat trip to Gananoque was at 7:30.  After some last minute shuffling of passengers, the first boat left.  We were going to get to Alexandria Bay and get tickets for everyone if the boat was filling.  It was a good thing we went early.  The second load of people didn't get there until 20 minutes before the boat was leaving.

Our first stop was Singer Castle on Dark Island.  It was never really called Singer Castle until the new owners bought it.  The castle was built by the Frederick Gilbert Bourne, president of Singer Manufacturing Company, in 1904.  The castle has been in private residence until 2002.  When it was bought by its current owners, they turned it into a tourist attraction and an exclusive one-room hotel.  You can stay there for $800 per weekend night or $720 on weeknights.  Kim just looked at me when I asked.  I knew the answer was going to be no, but I had to ask.

When the castle was being designed, the architect had just read Woodstock by Walter Scott.  He designed the castle to reflect the Scottish castles in the book.  There were many secret passages designed into the castle based on the castles in the book.  After Bourne’s daughter passed away, she gave it to a military school and then a preacher bought it as a retreat.

It was cool to get a guided tour.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a good tour.  She showed how the servants (30 of them) used the secret passages to serve the Bournes.  If we had a smaller group, she would have taken us through one of them.  I really liked the building.  Although it was a residence, it had the feel of an old castle.

I asked about ghosts.  She said there were reports of them.  The caretaker tells her about them a lot.  He even offered her to stay the night, but she was a little scared to do so!

On the boat ride to the next castle, I felt a bug-bite on my arm.  It quickly turned painful.  It must have been a bee sting.  I don’t know if it was the venom or where it stung me, but it was so painful, that I could barely grip anything!  After a while, my hand started to tingle!

Our last stop was Boldt Castle.  I had been here with Mom, Dad, and Mary about ten years ago.  They had started working on finishing the interior at that time.  It was amazing to see how much work had been done since that time.

George Boldt had come to America in 1864 and started as a dishwasher.  He moved through management and eventually owned a prestigious hotel in Philadelphia.  The Astors in New York hired him as a proprietor of the new Waldorf Astoria.  In 1900, he started work on a "castle" on Hart Island as a tribute to his wife.  When she passed away in 1904, he had all work stopped.  If his wife could not see it completed, then no one should.  The castle fell into disrepair.  People would travel to the island and deface the property or take what they could.  The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took over the property for $1 to help preserve the property for tourists in 1978.  They have been working on restoration ever since then.  When we were there ten years ago, they had the grand staircase and some of the areas around it were completed.  None of the side rooms were even started.  It was amazing to see what was done.  All of the first floor rooms were done.  The bedrooms on the second floor were done.  The stained glass dome in the open area was done.  I hope to come back in ten or twenty years to see the completed building.

It would have been nice to have a guided tour.  There were some story boards around to give some meaning to the rooms, but it wasn’t enough.

Mary said she wanted a house like that.  She better get a great job or rich husband to pay for it!

It was Beth and Rob’s turn for dinner.  It was Italian sausage and pasta salad.  Another great dinner.
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