1989- I was 11 years old. I was right on the cusp of being a little girl and being a young lady so I was very impressionable. My mom and dad took my sister and I to the 1000 Islands. We stayed in a little run down motel room while my Aunt Pattie stayed in a cottage run by the same family. That was the beginning of many of my happiest childhood memories. We went every year (1990 we ended getting a cottage next to my aunt's so we had much more space) and my parents still go every single year. I brought my boyfriend (now husband) with us the first year we stared dating.
But the reason I'm writing this because of this place.
It was the epidemy of beauty and romance to me from the moment that I first saw it. George Boldt loved his wife Louise so much that he bought an island, named Hart Island, and built her a castle. But according to the story, she died, of what exactly they don't say, and George stopped all work on the island. He sent a telegram saying Mrs. Boldt had died. Stop all work. The men working to finish the interior layed down their tools and left the island never to return. That was in 1901.
When I saw it in 1989 it had only recently, 1977, been taken over by a preservation board. It had 76 years of theft and desecration and graffiti. It basically was in ruins. Most of it was dangerous to be around. But we took a boat over to the island anyways and paid the $5 per person to see it. My mom made it magical for me. She had us pretend that we were living in the early 1900's. The Boldt's had invited us to visit their beautiful castle. She told my sister and I that we would have been carrying parasols to keep the sun off of our faces. So we pretended to carry parasols, we spoke with pretend English accents, my dad pretended to carry a cane. We ooh'd and aah'd over every little brick, the pool with it's green water, pretended we saw beauty where there was only rubble.
Every time I go back to see the castle, I see how they are fixing it up. The playhouse is almost finished as is the power house and dove cote. The whole first floor of the castle is finished and this year they did Mrs. Boldt's bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom. The indoor pool is sparkly clean and almost ready for a people to take a quick dip. It's beautiful. I love it. And yet...
Every time I go back, I remember holding my parasol, laughing and singing and having the best time with my mom, dad, and sister. I remember my dad jumping out at us from behind the many doors and walls to scare us, to hear us scream. There was an innocence to that time. They say now that there were dark reasons behind the building of the castle, that Louise my have been killed or maybe just got fed up and left her husband. People complain the some of the refurbishment isn't quite what it should be. That it is not done up in the right era, that is being made too commercial. But I chose to dream about the man who loved his wife and wanted her to be a princess. It is a place of dreams to me.