Boldt Castle – Alexandria Bay, NY

Boldt Castle as we approached it using the water shuttle

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.

The Boldt Castle yacht house

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.

Construction of Boldt Castle started in 1900 and abruptly ended in 1904 after George C. Boldt’s wife, Louise, died at age 41. George C. Boldt was about 54 at the time
Being involved in many business endeavors and proprietor’s of the Waldorf Astoria enabled George and Louise to engage in many leisure activities. This is a boat that Louise used to race against George
A nice collection of early 1900’s boat motors
After languishing for 73 years, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA) purchased Boldt Castle and has now finished (nearly finished) what George Boldt started. I’m sure it would have been cheaper to finish it in 1904 dollars instead of 1977 dollars, but c’est la vie
I guess TIBA isn’t compelled to finish the pool, but plenty of people are compelled to toss coins into it (that’s the lump of dark and white matter you see at the bottom)
Certain areas of Boldt Castle have been left unfinished, like this one. I’m guessing the picnic table isn’t from 1904
The unfinished areas of Boldt Castle contain a lot of construction material, so I’m left to guess they are still working on it?
The Bridges Authority spent $15 million in 1977 to restore Boldt Castle (finish it really, since it was never finished to begin with)
Some of the grounds at Boldt Castle
It was hard to get a good, complete shot of the castle because of the trees
The dining room at Boldt in the spirit that George Boldt would have wanted it
I’m sure George Boldt would approve
There was some time and money put into this staircase
The Bridge Authority had to create this skylight from drawings that were found because it was never built to begin with
This is what the kitchen would have looked like had it been finished
A sitting area (as if you, our astute follower, couldn’t have guessed that yourself)
Not a bad head considering outhouses were still in vogue during the early 1900’s
An unfinished staircase
An unfinished fireplace
No matter how many times you tell people not to deface the property, they still do it. I’m starting to think that signs telling them not to only encourages them
One of the many unfinished areas. Most of the upper floors are unfinished, and there are six total floors
Some fancy roofing on Boldt Castle
The view of Alexandria Bay from the fourth or fifth floor of Boldt Castle
The lower walkway around the Italian Garden, and a statue from the same garden
This is the self-contained power plant. Consider electricity had just come about at the turn of the century and this is some pretty heady stuff. It was one of the first things constructed because they needed power for construction. Unlike the castle, I’m guessing this was fully completed before Boldt abandoned the project

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).

A view of a nearby lighthouse on Alexandria Bay




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