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Carleton Island Villa: A Souvenir The Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River by John A Haddock, 1895


Standing on the peninsula-like head of Carleton Island, so named in honor of Sir Guy Carleton—afterward Lord Dorchester, on what was known in 1778 as “Government Point,” is the summer residence of Mr. W. O. WYCKOFF, President of the Wyckoff, Seams & Benedict Company, of New York, better known, perhaps, from their connection with the manufacture of the Remington Typewriter.   To this residence he has given the very appropriate name of “Carleton Villa.”  Its situation, for many reasons, would be difficult to improve.  In its immediate front the broad expanse of the American branch of the St. Lawrence divides into two channels of more than a mile each in width, flowing away on either hand, forming two beautiful bays which afford ample security for the pleasure-craft moored therein, natural harbors whose picturesque shores add much to the beauty of the scene, lying on either side of an isthmus which connects the old “Government Point” with the mainland of the island itself.  To these are given the name, respectively of “North” and “South” Bays.  In front of the villas, the view stretches out on the vast expanse of Lake Ontario.  To the left, one gets a pleasant view of the village of Cape Vincent, almost hidden in a forest of maples, and a view of the mainland of the American shore for miles down the river, while on the right stretches away the broad expanse of Wolfe Island, beyond which, in the distance, are plainly seen the spires and towers of the city of Kingston, once the capital of Canada.

John A Haddock 1895 book photo

Photo: John A. Haddock, A Souvenir The Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River by John A Haddock, 1895

Just back of us rises a steep bluff in a height of some sixty feet, on which are the ruins of Fort Haldimand, built by the British in 1778;  and which was captured by the Americans in 1812.  One hundred and fifteen years ago this was a busy place.  It was the most important point above Montreal.  It was the great naval and military station of the lake and river.  So great was its importance that Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, hitherto the most noted of any point above Montreal, was for years entirely neglected while Fort Haldimand and the navy yard which it protects was an object of the greatest interest.   The history of Carleton Island would form a most interesting bit of old-time reminiscence, if written by itself;  but it must be omitted for the present.   Aside from the interesting history it affords, the locality is one to be chosen because of its healthfulness.   There is no malaria.   The air is pure and bracing even in the midst of the heated term.  The death rate of Cape Vincent, according to the statistics found in the report of the State Board of Health, averages only eight per 1,000 per annum.  There are no insect pests.   Mosquitoes are unknown, and to add to the attractiveness of the location, it is in the midst of the finest fishing in the world.  Muscalonge, black bass, pike and pickerel abound in every direction.  It is an ideal home for a sportsman.   Numbering down the river, Carleton Villa is the first of the Thousand Islands cottages, and in point of elegance of design and completeness of finish, it is easily first among all the summer palaces on the river.  All others, including the celebrated “Castle Rest” [G. M. Pullman residence] and “Greystone Villa,” [H. H. Warner residence] must necessarily take second place.  In a brief article, as this must necessarily be, it is by no means easy to convey a very clear conception of this elegant structure, and hence an outline must suffice.

THE VILLA

Imagine a building 102.7 in length by 73.8 feet wide, and four stories in height, with huge bay windows on each side, giving a cruciform effect to the general plan.   Great crypts of cellars extend underneath the entire structure.  Here is a gas-room fitted with one of Terrill’s equalizers, which supplies illuminating gas to every part of the house;  and extensive laundry with all its appurtenances;  a huge refrigerator, with rooms for a ton or more of ice.   Then comes the furnace room, fitted with two heaters furnished by the American Boiler Company;  then there is an iron shop, a carpenter shop, a coal room, a canned-goods storeroom, and a vegetable cellar.   All this in the basement.   In the rear of the next or first floor is the servants’ dining-room, connected at this point with the tower by one of the ‘bridge rooms,” of which there are two.   Then comes and ample kitchen, 16 x 20 feet in size, completely furnished, as are also the roomy pantries adjoining.  These would win the heart of any good housekeeper in sight.

THE MAIN HALL

is elegance itself.  It is a room sixty of eighteen, extending to a height of two stories.   It is surrounded by a gallery resting on beautiful Doric columns below, while the ceiling is supported by forty Corinthian columns disposed in pairs, connected by a tasteful balustrade.  All these columns, as well as the entire woodwork of the house excepting the floors, are of whitewood, elegantly finished and polished.   The great fireplace in the hall is a marvel of simplicity and beauty.  The tiling is plain, of light cream color, with gilt molding;  engaged columns on each side support a heavy entablature, above which the great chimney is enclosed with panel work;  the whole exquisitely finished, as it s, produces a fine effect.   On the south side of the hall is the library, or, as it is familiarly called, the “den,” a spacious room, elegantly fitted up and supplied with well-filled book cases, writing tables, and in fact everything that adds to the comfort and convenience of such a room.  The library looks out on the broad porch, and commands a delightful view of the river and lake.

Across the hall is the spacious dining-room, oval in shape and eighteen by thirty feet in size.   A parlor eighteen by eighteen, is also on this side of the hall.  There are grates in both the parlor and dining-room.  Extending across the entire front of the building and on its south side as far as the library, is the grand porch, about twenty feet in width, supported, as is the whole building, on a massive wall of Gouverneur marble.  For heavy granite pillars support the roof in front, while the main entrance is from a double flight of marble steps beneath an archway of the same material, fifteen feet in width, flanked on each side by a marble column of the Corinthian order.   The whole front is peculiarly grand and imposing.  The lower floors are of oak laid in cement, while all the upper floors are maple, deadened with the same material.  The walls of the building above the Gouverneur marble are of portland cement, and the entire structure is practically fire-proof.

The second floor contains the family rooms, all of which are en suite.  From the second floor up, oriel windows grace the corners of the main building, and from every room there is a beautiful view.  Each room has the one thing dearest to a woman’s heart—an ample closet.   Elegant bath-rooms abound everywhere.   The furniture throughout corresponds with the finish of the building;  birds’-eye maple being predominant.  Nothing dark, dull, nor gloomy.  The servants’ sleeping apartments are on this floor, in the rear of the building.  Their rooms are equally pleasant;  there is not a forbidding room in the whole villa.  The gallery already mentioned is on this floor, and from it and the vestibule every chamber, expect the servants rooms, is reached.   The third floor is occupied by the guest chambers, all finished and furnished in the elaborate style which characterizes every other part of the house.  In the fourth story are great store-rooms, though its crowning glory is a splendid billiard-room with all its appurtenances, available for either a game of French caroms or of pool.  Beginning in [the] rear of the great hall below, a broad oaken stair-case winds its way in the floors above by easy stages and roomy landings.  Chandeliers and gas fixture abound everywhere.  Once lighted, the building will seem as if illuminated.

Separate from the main building is a tower 111 feet in height and 16 x 16 feet at its base.   The basement room of the tower contains the pumping engine which sends the water into the great tanks above, whence it reaches every part of the building.   Above this is a work-room, and then come the great water-tanks [that?] store with [sic] more than two hundred barrels of water.  The tower is connected with the main building by two bridges, on each of which is an elegant room familiarly designated as the “bridge rooms.”

During the entire season brilliant gaslights will burn in the observatory of the tower every night, and it will not be long ere they will become a well known signal to the lake navigator.  From this observatory at the summit of the tower one of the most delightful view of lake, river and shore is obtainable.  The village of Cape Vincent, three miles away, seems to be close at hand, while the spires and towers of Kingston, ten miles away as the crow flies, stand clearly in view.   It is, indeed, a charming prospect.

Throughout the entire building the windows are of heavy plate glass and, indeed, there is nothing lacking in any spot or place that can be in any way conducive to the comfort of either the family or its guests, that has not been thought of and supplied.   The term “palatial” has become very common, as applied to everything among the Thousand Islands, from a steam yacht up to a summer residence, but to “Carleton Villa” the term apples with all that it signifies.

Mr. Wyckoff may well be proud of his summer home, not only because of its quiet and substantial elegance, but because it affords delight to others, in that it appeals to their truest artistic instincts because of its harmony of proportion and of color, demonstrating the fact that strength, solidity and massiveness may also be graceful.

As a setting to the great farm which lies back of it, and the steading [?] near at hand, it harmonizes well. It is not the farm house, of course, but it is a fitting farm residence for an American gentleman of means whose broad domain lies around him, and who delights in passing at least a portion of his time thereon in rural pleasures.

Photo by Mike Franklin © 2006

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Comments

Lisa
Comment by: Lisa
Left at: 7:04 AM Tuesday, April 21, 2009
my Dream home
Rachel
Comment by: Rachel ( )
Left at: 7:05 PM Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I just wish someone would rescue this dream castle. I have watched it for years on the internet and I am so sad that it is falling apart.
Stephanie
Comment by: Stephanie ( )
Left at: 3:14 PM Saturday, October 17, 2009
I'm with you Rachel-I have been looking at this saddened estate, which is by the way the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, for years. I would love to buy this and renovate in the exact condition it was in when first built. It is also my dream to make this property a lodge.
Olivia
Comment by: Olivia
Left at: 5:00 PM Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I think it's tragic that such a beautiful place has been neglected for so long.
Zachary
Comment by: Zachary
Left at: 1:14 AM Sunday, December 06, 2009
I agree with all of you. From the moment i laid eyes on this home i fell in love and began dreaming about restoring it back to how it's meant to be. I think we all should try to find a way to get a company or something interested in the property and then maybe they will restore this beauty.
Carlos
Comment by: Carlos ( )
Left at: 11:32 AM Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The property is for sale now ($495,000). Anyone interested in a partnership to own/restore? Certainly could not afford to do it alone. Making it into a lodge would allow many to enjoy this magnificent property while generating income to sustain. I wonder if we could get the television program "This Old House" pick this up for a tv program series?

If you haven't seen the listing:
http://www.historicproperties.com/more.asp?listing_id=necar006

gina
Comment by: gina ( )
Left at: 8:02 PM Thursday, January 07, 2010
Well
I will buy it and restore it,I will fill it with life and light......
that house and I belong,so I could buy it.......my home?

Sometimes I will like to share it,so I can see smiles in many faces,I will have dogs and birds,I will walk in the grounds with a long white dress,to feel the wind in my face, will grow a big garden that it deserves,at nigth I will look outside of a window and see the day die,and I will cry for everyone pain,specially the children and the animals.
One day I will leave it forever,the time goes fast,I don't have to much time.
Rachel
Comment by: Rachel ( )
Left at: 4:10 AM Friday, January 08, 2010
I once sent the link to Oprah. The TV idea would be good. I think it would make a great TV reality show!! A link should be sent to everyone we know. Hopefully news of this wonderful house would spread around the world. Maybe someone with the capability and funds would then rescue it. I don't know if it is too late.
Amanda
Comment by: Amanda ( )
Left at: 7:27 PM Friday, January 08, 2010
To Carlos:

I think we can restore this with the help of others.
Email me @ inbox1amanda@gmail.com
Robin and Todd
Comment by: Robin and Todd ( )
Left at: 10:56 PM Sunday, March 07, 2010
My husband and would love to buy this place and turn it in a bed and breakfast/resort. When ever we win the lottery, we will buy this place for sure. We think this house is the most intriguing structure that we have ever seen.
stacy
Comment by: stacy ( )
Left at: 10:02 PM Friday, April 23, 2010
I also have been watching and dreaming about this most awsome and intriguing estate for a long time!What a wonderfull lodge it would be.I agree that it is so very tragic that it is going to be lost in history if something is not done!Prayers and more prayers!!!GOD works in mysterious ways!
vonda
Comment by: vonda ( )
Left at: 2:12 PM Thursday, August 19, 2010
How crazy. I have been also watching this house for years! I've seen the price drop and bookmarked the site that really went into detail about the property and the work, but that site is gone. It was http://www.carletonislandvilla.com/
I've always told my husband that I would buy it and turn it into a B&B when we win the lottery.....
bWest
Comment by: bWest ( )
Left at: 4:33 PM Sunday, October 02, 2011
As an aspiring young entrepreneur, I'm now making it a point to become stable enough to purchase the Carleton Island villa and restore it to it's former glory... God pray my business takes off then - as the it appears the purchasing of the estate will be among the lowest of costs compared with the overall project.
I'd be greedy though - It would be a house, not a lodge. Only a private estate.
Chole
Comment by: Chole ( )
Left at: 8:49 PM Monday, October 31, 2011
I just saw this house listed on "America's Scariest Homes for Sale". I did not think that it was scary at all. The structure as it is now, shows the beauty that it once was. I did some research to see what it use to look like and it was absolutely breathtaking!
Milo
Comment by: Milo ( )
Left at: 8:05 AM Tuesday, November 01, 2011
I love the villa at first sight. I can wait for its price to drop that I can afford...that's a promise.See you soon...
Meghann
Comment by: Meghann ( )
Left at: 3:07 PM Wednesday, November 02, 2011
I too came to know of the villa via the most scariest places for sale..Not scary but haunting..it has been haunting my thoughts since I first saw the pictures and can not seemed to forget its impression. The whirl of ideas to restore race through my thoughts on a constent basis now. I would give anything to be a part of a restore to its former being and I too would love to see it as a home..not a resort! it is far to mystical to be surrendered to the multitude. It needs to be kept at peace!
David
Comment by: David ( )
Left at: 8:52 AM Sunday, June 24, 2012
I first learned of the Villa this year while staying at mcGreedys cabins across the river. I had taken my spotting scope just to check out the large ships that pass through the area daily. I was looking at this house and noticed the roof rafters exposed. We searched it on the internet, sure enough, there it was. Being around the construction trades most of my life. I estimate the cost of restoration at 20 million high end. That would not include the oak floors laid in concrete. This would be with conventional construction standards of today. What a great project it would be.
Angela
Comment by: Angela ( )
Left at: 4:13 PM Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I found this villa while searching for a fixer upper home for me and my husband to restore/make our dream home. I am completly in love with it! Far and well beyond my pay grade the likely hood of ever owning it and restoring it is slim to nothing. Buying it may not be out of the realm of possibility but restoring it seems an undertaking I could never afford. Absoultly on my number one list if I ever win the lottery lol. Maybe some one will convert into a bed and breakfast some day and I'll at least get to vist :)
Kim Rehley
Comment by: Kim Rehley ( )
Left at: 3:17 PM Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I saw this villa while at a get together at the cottage right next store to it, just four days ago. I couldn't ( and haven't ) been able to get it off my mind since. It is unbelievable and so amazing, mysterious and haunting all at the same time! I could have stood next to it, walking around it and taking pictures, all day long. Wow...I'm wondering how soon I can go back...
Dave
Comment by: Dave ( )
Left at: 12:53 PM Thursday, August 30, 2012
It looks like the roof is open, so it may be too far gone. The 1890s photos looked nice.
Loreli
Comment by: Loreli ( )
Left at: 2:47 PM Tuesday, September 04, 2012
It breaks my heart to see such a beautiful place sit all alone. I hope a lovely family buys and restores this gem someday soon. If we had the means I would love to bring it to it's full glory and share many family memories here! Seems like a dream!
Anne
Comment by: Anne ( )
Left at: 12:26 PM Sunday, September 16, 2012
I grew up loving "the castle" since the early 70's. My father would take me on boat rides around Carlton Island and passing by the Castle was the highlight of my ride. One year, we walked across the frozen river to see the Castle up close. We took lots of pictures which bring back great memories of family vacations in the 1000 Islands. I, too, like the rest of you dreamed of restoring this historic site. Pride and Prejudice was my inspiration; to restore the property into an English estate. Then, sadley, last year, my husband and I visited Cape Vincent only to see Windmills dotted the coast of Wolfe Island, detroying the beautiful view from the shore of the Castle. Very, very disappointing.
Abbiegayle
Comment by: Abbiegayle ( )
Left at: 11:09 PM Wednesday, October 03, 2012
My husband and I were looking for historical homes and came across this amazing piece of history. We have contacted the Realtor. We would like to restore it to it's former glory. Yes at first it could be a money pit, but history holds no price but what you do to preserve it. This place was once a glorious and important part of history. There are many people that would love to see it restored and that could donate time, resources, material, or even money to help in the preservation of this beautiful castle, that once was a guide for the steam ships of it's time.
richard
Comment by: richard ( )
Left at: 7:52 AM Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Just let me hit the lottery one time for 250 million, and this property won`t look like it does very long as I love old places like this!!!
Emily
Comment by: Emily ( )
Left at: 6:27 PM Saturday, October 13, 2012
Dear Abbiegayle,

I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that this grande villa might finally be getting the attention and love she deserves. If you find this note, I'd just like to let you know that in the event that you and your husband do purchase Carleton Isle, I offer my strong arms, love of historic homes, passion for all things design and anything/everything else that might assist you in this project. (besides money, because I don't really have any to spare). But I would honestly work for free, hauling wood, whatever it takes (my father is a skilled carpenter!) I'm madly in love with this property and if there's even the slightest chance you may need extra help please don't hesitate to contact me :)
Gerogie
Comment by: Gerogie
Left at: 4:26 PM Monday, October 15, 2012
I am so glade that I am not alone in cearing about this beautifule home! I fell in love with it the second I saw it and I can't stop wishing that I had the time and the money to fix it up. The price of property isn't even that high at all but restorying it would tack more then 4 times that much! dose any one know where I can find the floor plan for the house I just can stop day dreaming about fixing it up.
David ivey
Comment by: David ivey ( )
Left at: 7:10 PM Monday, October 15, 2012
I am interested in this type of work, so if you are hiring, please contact me in Dave J. Ivey Cape Vincent.
Kathy Pike
Comment by: Kathy Pike ( )
Left at: 6:47 AM Sunday, November 11, 2012
$495 000 would be 52 people putting in approx $10 000 for the purchase and a further $10 000 for the restoration and then they could time share every year for holidays.
Tom Rozanski
Comment by: Tom Rozanski ( )
Left at: 10:44 PM Friday, December 21, 2012
All the talk on here about all these dreams..As a builder thats been down that road heres some things a lot of you haven't thought about...First off let me say i also love the building. But before we cash out your 401 for the $495,000 price (which it would go for a lot cheaper) keep in mind. LAWS are different now days(unfortunately)here's a list of things to consider..

1. boat/barge expences..to get materials out there.

2. demolition alone could be 100 grand..labor, machine/equipment rental(lifts,bachoe,dump truck, etc.)

3. PERMITS not to build, thats the easy ones, permits to allow you to remove the LEAD, ASBESTOS, etc...PERMITS from DEC,EPA,TOWNS,GOVERNMENTS (US and Canada) all the hurdels you would have to jump would take 10's of thousands,and months if not years.

4. INSURANCE lots of it... God forbid the boat thats carrying the toxins off the island sinks. And all are children start glowing green in a week...

See where i'm going with this? Theres a lot to consider. From the heart i wish someone would take on the project but i think it would have to be the Gowernments. And in this economy we know thats not happening anytime soon... good luck and happy dreaming....Tom Rozanski
barbara
Comment by: barbara ( )
Left at: 12:15 PM Saturday, December 22, 2012
i was sent an email of a thousand islands and i would love this place if i could win a lot of money. does any one know how it got into this state because it looks so sad.
Robin
Comment by: Robin ( )
Left at: 5:01 PM Wednesday, January 02, 2013
I think it so sad, almost criminal, that the owners, the ancestors of this property would allow it to go into such a state. According to the realtor the home was built back in 1895 and resided in until 1927. Years later, after much neglect, they allowed contractors to come in and rip out all the doors and windows, as well as much of the ornate millwork, leaving it open to the destruction of the elements. They could have given it over to a historical society or something. There should be laws to hold people responsible for such buildings that they build


MLSNumber=S267208
Abbiegayle Shafer
Comment by: Abbiegayle Shafer ( )
Left at: 5:42 PM Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Dearest Emily,
I just happened to be looking at this site again and saw your message. Just wanted let you know we are doing all we can to purchase this property. We are not going to give up until we get it. We have some people interested in backing us and have meetings set up in the near future. I have been working on the restoration blueprints to return her to her original glory. We plan to use this home as one of the first for our Forgotten Ones Project. Contact me via facebook look for Abbiegayle Shafer and let me know who you are because when we get this purchased we will need all the willful hands and help we can get. We want to keep as much original pieces as we can. We have been working with a local building contractors, that also loves the property and has the same views we do. We have gotten estimates for her stabilization and roof restorations. The more people we get involved the better. Please contact me the4gottenones@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.
Warmest Regards,
Abbiegayle Shafer
Emily
Comment by: Emily ( )
Left at: 9:19 PM Monday, February 04, 2013
Dear Abbiegayle,

I've finally seen your previous email and recent comment! I really appreciate the update as I'm sure your family is very busy right now. I've sent a message to the email you provided, just going to post something on here to make sure I don't miss you.
Jennifer Warner Dzielak
Comment by: Jennifer Warner Dzielak ( )
Left at: 2:10 PM Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I spent all my summers growing up on the St. Lawrence, my parents had a camp at Glen Docteur's, and as young teens I remember taking a row boat with a small motor and going over to visit the castle. We were never afraid, just awestruck, I now know why all the windows were missing - I always wondered. This was well over 40 years ago, the stonework still looks phenomenal, the interior is distressed as it was 40 years ago, such a shame. I thought by now someone would have renovated this gem that has generated so many priceless memories. We now live in Virginia, I just happened to google Cape Vincent waterfront for sale, and it popped up, I am so anxious to read more about it, and glad to see the efforts started toward renovation - Jen Warner Dzielak, Montpelier, Virginia
Stacey Linn
Comment by: Stacey Linn ( )
Left at: 8:56 PM Wednesday, December 04, 2013
I WILL be purchasing The Carleton Villa by the end of this year. I hope I won't disappoint everyone by not making it into a bed & breakfast nor any kind of lodge. It will house me, my family, and my dearest friends. I will however be turning it into the most amazing haunted house attraction for the month of October and have it open to the public for the two weeks before Christmas in full holiday glory.

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