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.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Antique Singer Sewing Machines donated to Singer Castle, Dark Island.


Three additional Singer Sewing Machines have been added to the Singer Castle collection this year. Myron Sierson (pictured above), summer resident of Millens Bay, recently visited Singer Castle for a tour and determined that the castle would be the perfect place for the antique sewing machines that his grandmother and mother had used. Mr. Sierson’s grandmother Bertha Cusworth and then his mother Margaret Cusworth Sierson used an 1894 treadle machine with cabinet until the early 1970s. Mr. Sierson recalls his mother using the machine to sew his clothing and also sewing canvas flaps for the extension on the family’s tent used on camping trips to Cedar Island and Burnham Point State Parks. He remembers staying in that tent when hurricanes Connie and Diane hit the 1000 Islands region in 1956 and 1957. The Sierson’s tent weathered both hurricanes and remained standing without out one tear. The 1894 machine will be the oldest in the castle collection and is of particular interest to castle staff because it was manufactured in Elizabeth, NJ during Frederick Bourne’s tenure as the fifth president of the Singer Company. Mr. Sierson also donated a 1925 sewing machine with cabinet to the castle. The machine is still in perfect working condition. Earlier in the 2009 season, an Albany resident anonymously donated a 1910 machine to the castle. This 99-year old machine, manufactured in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is also in perfect working condition. The three new acquisitions will be placed on display making a total of eleven Singer Sewing Machines on display throughout the castle. Castle guests enjoy seeing the machines that remind them of those that their mothers, grandmothers and they themselves used or are still using in their homes.

Source: Direct from Dark Island.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New book inspired by Thousand Islands' Boldt Castle

The Castle on Deadman's Island is authored by Canadian author Curtis Parkinson who has roots in the Thousand Islands. Written for young adults, the author states that his book (fiction) was inspired by Boldt Castle. As the book gets into secret passageways I imagine Singer Castle on Dark Island also had some influence on the storyline. The cover picture even has a startling similarity to Singer Castle secret passageway entrances that I have passed through myself (click on the above picture to see it larger). I have not read the book, but in trying to keep my fellow 1000 Islands castle aficionados up to date I am blogging about it here.

When the owner of the castle on Deadman’s Island dies, his bizarre will leaves it to three of his friends who hate each other. Product description calls it an excellent new mystery that involves an eccentric millionaire, a woman’s disappearance, a towering castle, a secret tunnel and much more make this a compelling read.

The Kingston Whig Standard reports: “’I like setting the book in the early '40s when I was a young teenager,’ says Parkinson. ‘Canada was coming out of the Great Depression and everything was changing. The war was going on but in Canada we remained relatively innocent. And because a lot of women were out working, teenagers had a lot of freedom. And the Thousand Islands Bridge had just been built.’ In the book, Graham's Aunt Henrietta has just inherited one-third of a castle in the Thousand Islands. Unfortunately the two other beneficiaries have an intense dislike of her. When she goes missing, Graham suspects foul play. He recruits his friends and soon they are tramping around the castle -- at night of course when it's creepier -- discovering clues and secret passages and, of course, criminal activity.”

The book is available from It is also reported to be available in Kingston (Canada) at Chapters, 2376 Princess St., Indigo Books, 259 Princess St., and Novel Idea, 156 Princess St. (This blogger has no ties to this book).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Official Boldt Castle video uncovered by this blog!

If you go to the Boldt Castle official website, you will see on their own Welcome page where it says to "Click here to watch a live Boldt Castle video!!" However, it doesn't work, they have programmed it with a wrong URL. You cannot get to it from any of their own links. I have discovered the actual link as it should be. Click on the following to view it for real directly from their own website: Boldt Castle Video.
8/15/09 Update. This blog makes things happen! After not working for at least a year, and perhaps for years, within days of this blog posting this problem, Boldt Castle has quickly corrected their website! Thanks for making it happen!