Heart Island, complete with Boldt Castle. I didn’t take this picture, I have to give credit to an official tourism website. Hopefully they won’t mind.

Just past Syracuse is a place called Watertown. And just past Watertown is a place called Alexandria Bay. Alex Bay is on the St. Lawrence river. Directly in the path of that river is a place called Heart Island. On top of that island sits Boldt Castle.

Welcome to New York y’all.


Yup folks, this is a bowling alley. On an island, in the basement of the kids play castle. Directly next to the adult’s full size castle. What a life…

The place has a romantic story attached to it that many locals call into doubt and most tourists eat up. Here’s the twitter version: Hotel mogul builds castle for wife – wife “dies” – construction stops in perpetuity. This place was half built for 73 years, and now the Bridge Authority is working to complete the structure. Phew… context.

I get why people feel compelled to complete the project. But unfortunately, completing an unfinished project from 100 years ago is a bad idea. It’s clear from looking at the unrestored part of the building that who ever designed this place had a vision and was amply talented. From personal experience I can tell you that architectural plans are never exhaustive, so even if they do exist there are a lot of new decisions being made. No one would ever go back and “finish” a Picasso. I wouldn’t claim that architecture is art in the same way, but in this regard I think a little discretion would go far. Sometimes it’s better to preserve rather than rebuild. It certainly is in this case.

That being said, I think the place is magical. I learned a lot from exploring the unfinished parts of the building. So come fellow reveler… You are cordially invited to join Ruskin and I on a tour of the divinely decrepit.


Plaster gargoyle corbels? Check.


Arches, vaults, pocket doors, paneling and Corinthian capitals? … I can feel my knees getting weaker…


OH mama….


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