While in Watertown we took time to visit Boldt Castle upon the recommendation of an acquaintance we met in Augusta, Maine. We learn about all sorts of stuff to see from people we run into along the way.
Construction of Boldt Castle began in 1900, but after four years the command to halt construction was given by George C. Boldt (millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria, among other business interests): Boldt’s 41-year-old wife at the time had suddenly passed away, and he no longer wanted to proceed with completion of the 120-room Rhineland castle. Nowhere near completion at the time, the castle was left to rot for 73 years until the New York Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA) bought it as well as the island it sits on. TIBA have since restored about 70% of it and have open it to the public for viewing. For only $15 a head, I thought it was a relatively cheap date.
The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority spends roughly $4.2 million per year to operate Boldt Castle and estimates that the region as a whole receives over $30 million in visitor spending due to its attraction. While those are hearty numbers, my quick math suggests that if it only costs $15 a head to visit (what it cost us), and they get 185,000 unique visitors a year (their numbers, not mine), then admission alone is only netting them $2.775 million, for a bottom line loss of -$1.425 million per year. If that is indeed the case, they had better thank their lucky stars that management consultants exist, because it is they who can make a positive business case for anything (to be fair, I do believe Boldt Castle has a knock-on economic effect, but I also believe that quantifying it takes a crystal ball).