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7 of America's best castles to visit by luxury yacht

7 of America's best castles to visit by luxury yacht

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Boldt Castle

The story of Boldt Castle is a tragic tale of love and loss. In 1900, millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt, proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, broke ground on a six-story, 120-room summer dream home as a tribute to his beloved wife, Louise. Boldt employed 300 workers to execute his vision to create a Rhineland-style castle on Heart Island in the center of the Saint Lawrence River’s Thousand Islands region.

“Boldt even had the island reshaped into a heart, rounded at the top with a point at the bottom,” says Shane K. Sanford, director of operations and maintenance. The monumental structures on the seven-acre island, complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, children’s playhouse and dovecote, were never completed. In 1904, Louise unexpectedly passed away, and a heartbroken Boldt telegraphed the island and demanded all construction be stopped. He never returned.

The property sat vacant for more than 70 years, ravaged by weather and vandals, until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority — which now owns and operates Boldt Castle and the nearby Boldt Yacht House — began a painstaking rehabilitation and restoration project. About 50 percent of the castle is open to the public, including the library, dining room, master bedroom suites and the newly finished first-floor kitchen, as work continues one room at a time.

“The Boldt story is more than just the castle. He was very much into boats and boating,” says Sanford. The Boldt Castle Yacht House, built in 1903 on nearby Wellesley Island, is a quick shuttle boat ride across the river. The 64-foot-high shingle-style structure features towers, spires, steep-pitched gables and 128-foot covered slips that once housed the family’s yachts and enormous 106-foot houseboat La Duchesse (on display in the Antique Boat Museum in nearby Clayton, New York). Visitors today can view some boats from the original Boldt fleet such as P.D.Q. (Pretty Damn Quick), a 1904 raceboat with original 24-hp Barber Brothers Engine.

Don’t miss: Representing boats of George Boldt’s era is the 63-foot 1892 steam yacht Kestrel, which was donated to the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority and now resides at Boldt Castle’s Yacht House.

How to visit on a superyacht: With advance notice, Boldt Castle’s dock can accommodate vessels up to 75 feet. Larger vessels can anchor nearby and tender in. Heart Island is a U.S. Customs Port of Entry.

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