The most famous of the palatial summer homes built in the early decades of the 20th century is the never-finished Boldt Castle, a turreted fortress on Heart Island, just off the southest end of Wellesley island. It actually consists of seven structures: the castle itself, the arch, the playhouse, the power house, the hennery and the gazebo–all on Heart Island–and the yacht house on Wellesley Island, a brief boat ride away.
At the turn of the 20th century, George Boldt, owner of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia, was the most successful hotel magnate in the country. The castle on Heart Island was built as a birthday and Valentine’s Day gift to his wife, Louise. From 1900 to 1904, the Boldt family spent summers here, while 300 workers transformed the island into a palatial paradise. In 1904, at the age of 32, Louise died. All work immediately stopped. The grounds and unfinished buildings languished for more than 70 years until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took it over in 1977.
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