Written by Susan W. Smith
posted on September 16, 2008 08:19
When Paul Malo created Thousand Islands Life, the magazine, in 2005, he did so with a hope that much of the "past" would be appreciated and those special places that should be preserved are going to be. Throughout the three years of publication, TI Life has presented the history of a number of properties. A quick review of the archives will show a wealth of material has been provided to show important places that deserve our attention. Recently one of these properties went on sale.
As Paul wrote, "In the interest of finding appreciative stewards of historic properties, Thousand Islands Life presents some real estate of exceptional importance when offered for sale." These properties are hosted on our Properties page. The Historic Hart House on Wellesley Island has recently been listed by Prudential First Properties Real Estate and is a fine example of a valued property of the past.
When most tourists visit the Thousand Islands they want to see the "Castle". They stand on the shore in Alexandria Bay and look across to Heart Island, or they may be fortunate to take a tour boat out to the island and explore the castle and its grounds. One of those tourists of long ago did exactly the same. He and his wife not only stood on the shore at the small village of Alexandria Bay, but they took Captain Visger's tour boat around the River. One the most impressive homes in the newly developed region was on Hart Island.
Elizur Kirke Hart purchased Hemlock Island in 1871 for $100. Hart was a banker and a politician, being first elected a member of the State assembly in 1872. He also served one term in the Forty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1877-March 3, 1879) as a democrat. He spent twenty years as a summer resident on the island – which he called Harts Island. He and his family were prominent members of the summer community until his death in 1893. In 1895 George Boldt purchased the island from Hart's widow. He soon changed the name to Heart Island and began major construction projects throughout the region for the next two decades.
One of the first major projects on Heart Island was the construction of a new home. Seth Pope, a well known builder in Alexandria Bay, was hired to design and rebuild the first Boldt house. It became a showplace for the tour boat excursions. However the Boldts had other plans for their island and by 1900 the Heart Island complex was changed again. Boldt hired the architectural firm of Hewitt and Hewitt, in Philadelphia, to design a castle.
It was during that winter that portions of the former home on Heart Island were moved across the river on the ice. There are few details about who the construction foreman was, or how this was accomplished, but part of the original Hart Cottage was reconstructed on Wellesley Island and eventually became the Hart House Inn.
The present day Hart House is best described as a treasure. The photographs of the Inn show the ambiance and flavor of a special country inn. Over the next few months we will gather more historical facts about Hart House which we will share. If you have information that will add to this story, please contact us.
By Susan W. Smith
Hart House Inn Website: www.HartHouseInn.com
Click here for Property Real Estate Presentation
For more information on Heart Island and restoration, please see:
Paul Malo, Boldt Castle, Laurentian Press, 2001.