Above photo: Expansion of South Boathouse on Dark Island from antiquity.
On Wednesday, June 14, 1905 the Saint Lawrence Republican newspaper reported on the effects of the on-going construction of Frederick Bourne’s castle on Dark Island on the population of Chippewa Bay, New York. The paper stated, “There are reported to be 116 names on the payroll engaged in the various works on Dark Island. The business of repairing, painting and cleaning up on the islands is very active. We soon shall see a decided increase in population in this locality.”
On Wednesday, January 19, 1910 the paper again reported on construction on Dark Island. At that time the article said: “Contractor J. B. Reid has a large contract of removing rock at Dark Island the summer home of F.G. Bourne of New York. The rock is being removed in the large yacht house to make a deeper waterway for larger yachts. The space of solid rock to be removed is 90 feet long, 26 feet wide and 12 feet deep. On the outer end or towards the river, they have to coffer dam the same to blast out the rock. The stone is hoisted and carried by cables leading from the forward end of the boat house to scows, which are then towed out into deep water and dumped… there are 37 men on the job, divided into day and night shifts, so that work is going on continually. An addition of 40 feet will be built on the present yacht house when the blasting is completed. The power house has been raised one story and sleeping rooms for the servants have been finished.” In that same time period additional guest bedrooms were added to the main building, the breakfast room was enlarge, another floor was added to the tower to house the clock and the south boat house was widened.
In 1928, Marjorie Bourne Thayer had a new master suite of rooms constructed over the area that was then known as the logia. She also had a Squash Court constructed as a birthday present for her husband Alexander. The project was extensive and would have kept a large team of carpenters and stonemasons at work for many months.
Since those earlier days, the majority of the construction projects on the Dark Island have been restoration projects aimed at keeping the Bourne’s castle available for the use and enjoyment of generations to come. Many of the most recent projects have dealt with the island’s infrastructure and have not been visible to the naked eye. The current construction project on Dark Island has been very visible in part due to the large frame of scaffolding that has been erected around one entire wing of the castle. Guests now are able to readily see the results of the work of a talented team of stonemasons who have been carefully removing the crumbling concrete pillars from around the windows on one wing and replacing those pillars with new ones constructed of Indiana limestone.
Visitors can view the current construction project and hear about previous ones during their visit to Singer Castle. The castle is open daily for 45 minute guided tours with the first tour at 10:00 a.m. and the final tour of the day leaving the main dock at 4:00 p.m. Call 1-877-327-5475 or visit www.singercastle.com for more information.
Above photo: Old pillars
Below: New pillars
(2012 project photos)
Above report and photos received direct from Dark Island.