Ok so here is a more in depth telling of the Boldt's tragic love. I have done A LOT of research. I have been researching all week. How I did it as I found info I would paste in a word doc. Then when I was done I had like 10+ pages. So I went through each and made a time line with more information about everything.
Don't get me wrong I was so happy to do it. It has been like a pet project for me. I was really getting into it. I even found mention of Louse Kehrer in the Pennsylvania Heritage archives.
Be sure and check out HAPPYBASKET's Blog "Memories & Fears of The Thousand Island Bridge."
OH and as a warning better grab a drink and relax it is rather LONG Ha!
Even after I edited it down.
** Boldt Castle tale and their Ghosts **
George C. Boldt was born in 1851 on the Isle of Rugen, in the Baltic Sea. He was the son of poor parents, but was given a good primary education in the common schools.
At age 13 he emmigrated to the United States, and started working in the kitchen of a hotel. Eventually he headed to Texas to try his hand at ranching, but a series of misfortunes caused him to give up and return to New York City, where he took a job at Parker's Restaraunt.
Louise Augusta Kehrer was born in 1862, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Her father was William Kehrer, the steward of the famous Philadelphia Club.
In 1876 George Boldt was appointed steward at the Clover Club in Philadelphia, Pa. Louise was only 14 when her father asked George Boldt to work for him. George was 26, and it wasn’t long before love blossomed between them. They were married on June 14, 1877.
George thought of his wife as a princess, and Louise loved to share her husbands passion for hotels. She spent all her time with him helping to clean the rooms of his many hotels, and offering ideas on renovations and designs. Louise was George's constant companion and hostess at their Bellevue Hotel. She knew the hotel business, because of her fathers work, and encouraged her husband in all that he did. The astute lady also played a great part in helping make the world-famous Waldorf Hotel the luxurious wonder that it was in the 1890's. She was instrumental in the decorating of the hotel, insisting that fresh flowers were left in every room, and that such luxuries as 'pin-cushions,' were supplied.
Boldt and his wife Louise had a love that most people would call magic. They lived and breathed only for each other. They were closer than any married couple could be. The Boldts went on to have two children. George Jr. in 1879 and Louise in 1883.
George Boldt rose quickly in the hotel business, amassing a fortune. Eventually he owned and operated his own hotels such as the Bellevue and the Stratford Hotels, and managed such hotels, as world-famous Waldorf-Astoria, in New York City.
During a summer vacation in 1895, many of New York’s elite were spending their summers up north in the Thousand Islands, yachting on the St. Lawrence River and building massive Beaux Arts mansions along Alexandria Bay. George followed suit, envisioning a spectacular gift for his beloved Louise, whom he called his “beautiful princess.”
The family came across Hart Island. Mrs. Boldt immediately took a liking to it and George wasted no time in buying it. Heart Island was purchased for a mere $1.00, by Louise Boldt from Edward Wallace Dewey, on July 1, 1895. Dewey purchased the estate only 11 days earlier for $10,000.
He planned on building her the house of her dreams. They spent many summers there before George mastered his most treasured plan yet. George thought his wife deserved to live like a princess in a castle with beautiful things surrounding his beautiful wife.
In late 1899, George Boldt commissioned the construction of a castle on Heart Island. He intended Boldt Castle, modeled after a Rhineland Castle. The island was reshaped using sea walls to resemble the shape of a valentine heart, with the same symbol etched into the castle's plaster, stone, and wrought-iron work. - a fitting motif for a Valentine's Day present for his wife, Louise, whose 42nd birthday fell on the holiday in 1904.
In 1900 George Boldt set out to create a fairytale castle as a testament to the love had for his beloved and indispensable wife. Over 300 construction workers pouring all their time and effort into its completion. At just $1.50 an hour, these men worked almost 9 to 10 hour days. The seemingly-impossible construction of a six-story, 120-room stone behemoth with tunnels, electric power, elaborate gardens, and a truly enormous yacht house.
George, Louise and their two children spent four successive summers in the property’s original 80-room, um, "cottage". Boldt tore down the old summer ‘cottage’ and began building Boldt Castle. He added a lagoon, altered the shape of the island into a ‘heart-shape’, and changed the spelling from ‘Hart Island,’ named after the previous owner Elizur Hart, to ‘Heart Island’, which it remains today.
George Boldt owned the stone quarries that supplied the stone used in building the castle, and he owned the sand-pits that supplied sand which was mixed into the mortar mixture holding the stone together. The massive granite blocks were cut so accurately, and with such precision, that when they arrived at their final resting spots from their location on ‘Oak Island’ (ten miles down river) – not a single stone needed alterations
The male deer, or stags, which can be seen throughout the island and sitting high atop the Peristyle, are known as ‘harts. ‘The ‘hart’ is a symbol of George Boldt’s European lineage as well as being part of the family coat-of-arms.
***The Hennery, or Dove-Cote, was the first building built on the island by the Boldt's, while they were remodeling the original summer cottage in 1884.
The stone tower was topped with a wooden structure designed for use as a dovehouse. This building was part of a 'hennery,' where the Boldt's collected exotic fowl. Around the base of the tower, and following the graceful curve of the retaing wall, a large greenhouse was to be built, complete with a giant palm room.
The Dove-Cote, or 'Hennery' was the first structure built on the island by the Boldts, while they were remodeling the original frame summer 'cottage' on the island in 1894. The stone-tower was topped with a wooden structure designed for use as a dove-house. This building was part of a "Hennery" where the Boldt's collected exotic fowl.
***Construction on Alster Tower, or the 'Playhouse,' as it was sometimes called, began in 1897 and was finished in 1899, and cost $15,000 to build.
The family stayed here during the summers while Castle Boldt was being constructed. The tower is made of stone and follows the 16th century European style that George envisioned for all of the structures of Heart Island. Inside, the tower was much more modern. It was built with a room for dancing, called the "Shell Room," a library, a billiards room, a bowling alley, guest rooms, a café and kitchen.
Alster Tower rises 90 feet high. It's walls are built of a variety of local brownstone. George Boldt was inspired for his playhouse from an old defense tower he saw on the Alster River in Germany. While his idea came from that tower, most likely its construction 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 in his keen interest and great enthusiasm for these projects. Its intended purpose was to entertain guests to the island, and for recreational facilities for the family. It stands on the very edge of Heart Island.
There are two stairways leading to the tower, one inside and one outside. When a person reaches the summit of the tower, they can enjoy a spectacular view of the immediate surroundings in addition to a splendid view of the many lush islands in the area. The outside casements and battlements are adorned with flowers and rustic seats. At the foot of the building is the tower deck, where boats would have landed with guests to the island. Next to the tower, also on the waterfront, is the Roman Pool.
***Arch, or Peristyle which is close to Alster Tower, on the south end of the island. A Peristyle is an open space enclosed by a colonnade. In 1899 crews started work on the Peristyle, building a solid foundation of huge masses of granite. It is built out into the water in such a way as to make the heart shape of the island more pronounced.
This grand passageway was to be the formal entry to Heart Island for launches delivering guests from larger yachts anchored in deep water. A draw bridge within the opening, when raised would allow small boats to pass into an artificial bay, and while lowered provided a promenade on the embankment of the enclosed swan pond. Construction ceased before it was able to be used for its intended purpose.
*** The Power House The Boldt's intended to electrify the island when they aquired it, and had their architects design this facility where coal, which would be brought by barge, would fire-up 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. The 15 chimes forming a miniature representation of the Westminster Chimes. They ranged in size from 12 to 14 feet, and could be heard up to four miles away. They were played every half hour and could be easily manipulated by a keyboard or an organ, located in the castle ballroom
On August 6, 1939, the Power - House was wrecked by fire. A fireworks display held on Heart Island in connection with a 'peace celebration', resulted in a stray spark landing on one of the turrets of the building. The entire roof was destroyed, In 1991, the Power House Clock & Chimes Towers was opened again. The two large stone shells, which once graced each side of the arch, came up missing. Over 70 years later, the Thousand Island Bridge Authority found one of them, still intact, on the bottom of the Heart Island Lagoon and incorporated it into the ‘wishing well’ that it is now resting in the lovely Italian Gardens on the south end of the island.
***The Gazebo is a beautiful stone and wood structure designed for many pleasurable summer evenings spent entertaining or dining in it.
Stone pillars support a uniquely designed roof, which includes holes in the peaks, allowing homeless birds to nest in them.The Gazebo can be used today for wedding ceremonies.
The photo below shows what it looked like prior to restoration. The gazebo was restored in 1993
Four long years and so much money, George and his workers poured their hearts into this castle, while Louise became increasingly frail, and suffered from a heart condition. George and Louise Boldt were married for 26 years.
One month shy of this date, his dream ended with a shock. In January 1904, Louise's life ended suddenly when she succumbed to heart failure. She had known just forty-one years in this world, died at the age of 42.
George Boldt was so broken-hearted and devastated by Louise's death. The castle construction of was nearly completed , costing 2.5 million dollars, (in the early 20th century – and a staggering $200 million today.) George sent a simple telegram to his construction crew telling them to stop their work. George never got to really enjoy his castle and never stepped foot on the island again.,
Boldt remained active in hotel management and in anguished until his own death on December 5, 1916, he died in 1916 in his room at the Waldorf-Astoria. George was 65 years old.
For 73 years, the unfinished Boldt Castle compound stood empty and unfinished, prey to vandalism and punishing area weather. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority purchased it in 1977, and has since turned it into the area’s greatest tourist attraction.
Boldt Castle today is still a work in progress (its upper floors are peppered with graffiti and dust, and the children’s fanciful playhouse is under repair), but its romantic grounds are a popular site for weddings.
To us, it seems a star-crossed place to start a long life together…but we can appreciate the dream.
~*~ Ghosts ~*~
Now here is where the story begins again. Many locals, and tourists, claim that they have seen Mrs. Boldt, some claiming they have seen her just months after she passed away, on Heart Island. What’s even more strange is that she has even been seen inside her unfinished castle. People claim they see this lasy in white walking along the waters by her boathouse, and mysterious lights going on inside when the castle is closed.
Now with renovations continuing since around 1977, some say that the construction is awakening her again, many people have heard footsteps inside on floors above them. A folklore that has people talking about, was her death ; did she really die, or run off with another man? Many people have asked this over the years, because of the sudden change of heart that Mr. Boldt had in building the castle on Heart Island. Whatever the case may be, Boldt Castle will always have a special hold on anyone who visits, whether it be for the love story, or the ghosts
** Their Children ***
~* George Charles Boldt Jr. *~
George Boldt Jr., was born on February 4, 1879 in Philadelphia pennsylvania. His early years were spent in the usual manner, attending school in Lawrenceville New Jersey.
When he turned 22 he enrolled in Cornell University at Ithaca N.Y. He studied for an Arts degree and received one in June, 1905.
Shortly after graduating, George Jr married Estelle Savin. Two daughters were born to them, Manuelita A. Boldt, on April 29, 1907 and Louise A. Boldt on June 11, 1910.
George Jr worked closely with his father at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, but unlike his father, he lacked ambition..
After his father's death in 1916, George Jr and his sister, Louise Clover, inherited their father's vast empire, and managed it for years. Unfortunately, young George didn't inherit his father's drive or zeal for things. Eventually they sold off their interest in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Company. Shortly afterwards they sold off their interest in the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel as well as the Wellesley Farms that their father built in the 1000 Islands to provide fresh food for his many hotels.
After 22 years of marriage, George and Estelle were divorced in October of 1927. George Jr was well-provided for by his father, so he retired early and traveled. He died on January 26, 1958.
He was 78 years old.
~* Louise Clover Boldt *~
Louise Clover Boldt was born on October 31, 1853. She was the only daughter of George Charles and Louise Augusta Boldt. She was educated at the Spence School in New York City, and became engaged in April of 1907 to Mr. Alfred Graham Miles of N.Y. City. They married on October 8, 1907.
The young couple had great admiration for the Thousand Islands Region and the beautiful St.Lawrence River, and vacationed there often. They were both very active in sports and while in the 100 Islands, often enjoyed tennis, polo, and motor-boat racing.
Louise Clover and Alfred Miles only had one child - a daughter whom they named Clover Wotherspoon Miles. She was born on February 21, 1910.
After her father's death in 1916, Louise Clover was active in running her father's vast empire for many years until she and her brother, George jr, decided to sell off the family estate. One-by-one.
They unloaded the family inheritance, and Louise Clover remained very active in the Thousand Islands all her life. She retained 'Hopewell Hall' on Wellesley Island, which she left to her daughter.
Louise Clover Boldt Miles died on May 30, 1963 at the age of 79. She had no children and this is the end of the Boldt line.