Saturday, August 29, 2009

Singer Castle, Dark Island, under construction!

Pictured above is Singer Castle as it was originally being constructed (click on the picture to see it enlarged)!

Frederick G. Bourne’s “small hunting lodge,” known as The Towers, on Dark Island was built on a rocky bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Bourne had purchased Dark Island for $5000 in December 1902 and work on the castle began in October 1903. The J.B. and R.L. Reid Construction Company of Alexandria Bay was hired for the project. They employed a large crew of men to work year round on all phases of the construction. Local folklore said that nearby neighbor, artist Frederic Remington, who had his summer home on Temagami Island (he called it Ingleneuk), found the noise generated by the project very irritating.

A June 1905 Town of Hammond (NY) census report stated that there were 116 men on the payroll performing all phases of work year round. The men lived in a floating rooming house constructed on a large scow that tied up to the island, in wooden shanties or in tent cities near the sandstone and granite quarries in Hammond and on Oak Island. During the winter months, lumber and stone were ferried from the mainland by wagon over the ice to Dark Island. Skilled stonemasons were brought from Italy to carve the marble used on the grand fireplaces in the dinning and drawing rooms. No expense was spared in the construction and the castle had its own telephone system and power plant, which functioned until the late 1960s.

Bourne purchased land in Canada and had at least 2000 loads of soil brought to Dark Island to be placed between two 20-foot high stonewalls. The walls bordered the Rose Garden area and the area known as the Castle Green where lawn tennis courts were constructed. Under the Castle Green a tunnel was built connecting to the North Boat House and a tower and bridge were constructed to connect the South Boat House to the castle.

Source: Direct from Dark Island.