Beautiful Famous Castles in New York
New York is known as the Emprie State and fittingly at least one hundred castles have been built in New York dating back to the 1800's. These are fourteen of the most beautiful and famous of those castles. Many of the castles in New York have not survived but all 14 of these have and almost all of them are open to the public and welcome visitors and guests. Some of the richest people in New York and the world built these castles but most of them never really lived in them for very long.
Singer Castle on Dark Island
Singer Castle which used to be known as Dark Island Castle sits on Dark Island in the Thousand Islands area in the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York not far from Boldt Castle. Built in 1905 by Frederick Gilbert Bourne the President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company known as Singer Corporation today the Singer Castle was modeled after castles from Sir Walter Scott novels. Bourne told his family he was building a hunting lodge on Dark Island and they were surprised, astonished and delighted when Bourne took them to the island and they saw the hunting lodge was really a castle built for them to summer in each year.
The castle remained in private hands and was known as Dark Island Castle until 2002 when Dark Island Tours purchased the island and renamed it Singer Castle. Singer Castle is open to the public today and rooms are available to rent for weddings, parties and overnight stays. In 2008 Dark Island and Singer Castle were offered for sale through Sotheby's International Realty for $24.5 million dollars with no takers.
Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island on Hudson River
Bannerman Castle is located on Pollepel Island which is also known as Bannerman Island a 6.5 acre island in the Hudson River about 50 miles north of New York City. The castle was built in 1901 by and named for Francis Bannerman IV a New York City businessman who bought and sold war surplus materials and scrap iron. By 1900 Bannerman had acquired too much war surplus materials to safely store at his Brooklyn yard so he purchased Pollepel Island and built Bannerman Castle to store his surplus war goods. In 1920 some 200 tons of explosives blew up on the island which destroyed part of Bannerman Castle. By 1950 Bannerman Castle was abandoned and in 1967 New York State purchased the island and castle.
Today Bannerman Castle is run by the Bannerman Castle Trust for the New York State Park Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Tours of the castle by the public are allowed through the Bannerman Castle Trust and one has to wear a hard hat to go on the tour which is a good thing because in December 2009 train commuters who can clearly see Bannerman Castle along the Hudson River line reported that parts of the castle collapsed.
Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Did you know there is a castle in Central Park in New York City? It's called Belvedere Castle and sits on top of Vista Rock one of the highest points in Central Park. Belveder Castle was built in 1869 to provide views over parts of the park and served for a time as a weather station and an observatory. The castle was closed to the public in the 1960's and suffered damage from vandalism through the 1970's but in 1983 Belvedere Caslte was restored and re-opened to the public and is a popular tourist attraction in Central Park today.
Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands
Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island which is one of the Thousand Islands that straddle the New York State and Ontario, Canada border in the St. Lawrence River that begin shortly after the river emerges at the northeast corner of Lake Ontario and stretch downstream for some 50 miles. The castle was built beginning in 1900 by George Boldt the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and the man who popularized Thousand Island salad dressing when he told his head chef at the Waldorf-Astoria to include it on the menu after Boldt was given the recipe at his summer home in the Thousand Islands.
Construction continued on Boldt Castle until 1904 when Boldt's wife Louise Kehrer Boldt died and Boldt immediately ceased all construction. For the next 73 years the castle was ignored and suffered degradation from the harsh Upstate New York winters. In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought Heart Island and the castle and has made great progress in restoring Boldt Castle and today it is a popular tourist attraction which can be accessed by ferry boat from Alexandria Bay in New York and Gananoque, Rockport and Ivy Lea from Ontario, Canada.
Castle Rock in Garrison, New York
Castle Rock is located on the heights above the Hudson River in the town of Garrison, New York just across the river from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The castle was built on Castle Rock hill hence the name and the castle has a commanding view of the Hudson River and West Point. Built in 1881 by William H. Osborne owner of the Illinois Central Railroad it is believed that Castle Rock remains in the Osborne family today and is their primary residence. Castle Rock has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977 and even though the castle remains in private hands most of the land around the castle has been acquired or donated to the state of New York and is open to the public for hiking.
Castle Gould in Hempstead
Castle Gould is also known as Hempstead House and is located in the Sands Point Preserve at 127 Middle Neck Road or Route 101 in Sands Point, New York on the North Shore of Long Island in Nassua County. Castle Gould was built by Howard Gould the son of wealthy railroad tycoon Jay Gould beginning in 1900. By the time Castle Gould was finished in 1912 Gould and his wife split and the place was sold to Daniel Guggenheim who promptly changed the name to Hempstead House. Guggenheim's wife gave Hempstead House to the US Navy which used the castle as a training site until 1967. In 1971 the US Government gave Castle Gould or Hempstead House to Nassua County which runs it today as a museum open to the public.
Oheka Castle in Huntington, NY
Oheka Castle is located at 135 West Gate Drive in Huntington, New York in the area known as the Gold Coast along the North Shore of Long Island. Oheka Castle was built by wealthy financier Otto Kahn whose middle name was Hermann and Oheka is derived from his whole name. The castle was built between 1914 and 1919 and is the second largest private home in the United States at 109,000 plus square feet. Today Oheka Castle is run as a luxury hotel with a golf course that offers public tours and is often used for weddings and parties. Oheka Castle was F. Scott Fitzgerald's inspiration for Gatsby's Estate in The Great Gatsby and parts of the Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane where filmed here.
Olana Castle or mansion is located in the Olana Historic Site in Hudson, New York right along the Hudson River with the entrance on Route 9G about 1 mile south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Olana Castle or mansion was built by Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church in 1860 and he lived here for 40 years with his wife and children until he died in 1900. Church named the place Olana after an ancient fortress and treasure house in Persia and Olana Castle sits on a hill looking down upon the beautiful Hudson River Valley that Church was famous for painting. Today the site is run by the Olana Partnership and is open daily to the public for tours.
Ophir Castle or Reid Castle in Purchase, NY
Reid Castle was originally known as Ophir Castle and is located on the campus of Manhattanville College at 2900 Purchase Street in Purchase, NY in Westchester County and serves as the home of the chief administrative offices of the College, faculty offices, and meeting and function rooms. Ophir Castle was originally built by Whitelaw Reid who was the Publisher and Editor of the New York Tribune and completed in 1892 and was the first home in Westchester County to have both a telephone and electricity.
In 1946 Reid Castle almost became the home of the United Nations but when neighbors complained John D. Rockefeller who lived nearby offered the present site in New York City. Manhattanville College purchased Reid Castle and the entire Reid estate in 1949 and in 1969 changed the name from Reid Castle to Reid Hall. The college welcomes visitors and keeps Reid Hall open daily from 9 to 5 pm.
Ward's Castle in Port Chester, NY
Image Source (Castle like Church in Port Chester also using reinforced concrete)
Ward's Castle is located in Port Chester, New York up on a hill along Comly Avenue just before the border with Connecticut. Built by mechanical engineer William E. Ward in the 1870's Ward's Castle was the first building constructed in the United States using reinforced concrete. Neighbors expected the building to collapse and originally called it Ward's Folly but after years of sturdy living the building became known as Ward's Castle.
Westbury Castle or House in Old Westbury, NY
Westbury House or Castle is located 71 Old Westbury Road in Old Westbury, NY on Long Island. Built by John Shaffer Phipps who was the son and heir of Andrew Carnegie's childhood friend and adult business partner Henry Phipps in 1906 Westbury House also contains over 200 acres of formal gardens and landscaped grounds. The entire estate is open to the public from April through October unless a movie is being filmed here. Such movies as North by Northwest, The Manchurian Candidate, Age of Innocence, Wolf and American Gangster have been filmed at Westbury House.
The Buffalo Armory is located at 184 Connecticut Street in Buffalo and was built in 1898.
Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown
Lyndhurst Castle is located at 635 South Broadway in Tarrytown, New York. Lyndhurst Castle dates back to 1838 when owner William Paulding had a smaller version first built. Subsequent owners George Merritt and Jay Gould continued to add to the castle. Today Lyndhurst Castle is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and open to the public. The views from atop the castle of the Hudson River are worth the trip.
Castle on the Hudson or Tarrytown Castle
The Castle on the Hudson or Tarrytown Castle is located at 400 Benedict Ave in Tarrytown which is just off Route 9. The Castle on the Hudson is a beautiful luxury hotel and restaurant today popular for weddings and special events.
Leland Castle in New Rochelle
Leland Castle is located on the campus of the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, New York. Originally dating back to 1848 the castle was started by wealthy hotel owner Simeon Leland. Today Leland Castle houses the administarion staff and contains a Castle Art Gallery at the College of New Rochelle.
Glen Island Castle in Westchester County
Glen Island Castle is located in Glen Island Park in the Long Island Sound in Westchester County, New York. The castle was built by John H. Starin and was part of his summer resort tourist idea in which he linked four islands in the Long Island Sound each with a different international theme. Today Glen Island Castle is part of Glen Island Park and open to the public.
Belhurst Castle is located along the shoreline of Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York in the the Finger Lakes. Designed by architect Albert W. Fuller, Belhurst Castle used to be a casino. Today it is a restuarant and hotel open to the public. For more info visit the Belhurst Castle website.