Dark Island, a prominent feature of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, is located in the lower (eastern) Thousand Islands region, near Chippewa Bay. It is a part of the Town of Hammond, in St. Lawrence County, New York.
A historic landmark on the island, "The Towers", was long known as "Dark Island Castle" until recently renamed "Singer Castle". The island is situated only a few yards south of the Canada-United States border that runs along the river.
The Castle features 28 bedrooms, bathrooms, a large Drawing Room, library, and kitchen. Within the walls is a network of secret passageways that are accessible from various locations, one of which is a panel in the library that, at one time, could be opened by pulling a specific book from a nearby shelf, triggering the locking mechanism.
The south side of the island is only about one hundred feet from the shipping channel, and cargo ships frequently pass the island. Because of the depth of the channel on one side, and the relative shallowness on the other, it is very good for sport fishing of largemouth bass and northern pike.
Most of the architectural work at Dark Island is attributed to the prominent American architect Ernest Flagg. His client was Frederick Gilbert Bourne, president of the Singer Manufacturing Company (now the Singer Corporation), producer of the Singer Sewing Machine. His daughter, Marjorie Bourne Thayer, made large additions in 1928. Flagg also designed the skyscraper headquarters for the company in New York City, the tallest building in the world at the time. Flagg is known for many major American projects, such as the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
The island's castle was the last of several "castles" built at the Thousand Islands during a brief interval (1888–1905). Bourne undertook the project while the larger Boldt Castle was nearing completion nearby. The architect modeled the stone structure, planned in 1903, on a castle in Woodstock, England that was described in Sir Walter Scott's book Woodstock.
Following the 1919 death of Frederick Bourne, his daughter Marjorie (Mrs. Alexander D. Thayer) took title to the property. Her ownership was contested by a brother, but she retained title.
Upon her death, the Roman Catholic order Brothers of the Christian Schools (the Christian Brothers) acquired Dark Island along with the large Bourne country house, Indian Neck Hall at Oakdale on Long Island, which thereafter became LaSalle Military Academy. Having little use for the remote island in the St. Lawrence River, the Christian Brothers sold Dark Island in 1965 for approximately US$5,000, to be used thereafter by a charitable organization of religious character, the Harold Martin Evangelistic Association.
The previous tax-exempt status of the property was contested by neighbors after occupancy by the new owner. They contended that Dr. Harold Martin, director of the charity, maintained the tax-exempt property for his own private use as a summer residence. Martin prevailed in court, on the basis that he and his wife, Eloise, offered a religious service on the island every Sunday morning, open to all. During this Martin interval, the property was called "Jorstadt Castle," from Dr. Harold Martin's family surname before immigrating from Norway. The castle's name has since been changed to "Singer Castle."
After more than thirty years of Martin tenure, removal, sometimes due to theft, depleted the original contents. Due to the high cost of maintenance, a number of original fixtures and artifacts fell into disrepair. Rumors about the true use of the property (its new name not identifying any religious or charitable ownership), together with gradual deterioration of the property and stories about a complex maze of dimly lit secret passageways, complete with a dungeon, all increased the romantic mystique of Dark Island.
During the later decades of the Martin period (the late 1980s and early 1990s), Dark Island was listed for sale. Advertisements appeared in high-end real estate magazines such as Unique Homes with suggestions that it be a "private residence, corporate retreat or hunting lodge." Interest came from as far as Japan, but the property remained unsold until acquired in 2001 by Dark Island Tours, Inc., a venture of German businessman Farhad Vladi and two European business partners. Vladi also operates Vladi Private Islands GmbH, real estate company based in Hamburg, Germany that specializes in selling islands.
Dark Island Tours, Inc. undertook an extensive campaign of restoration and adaptation in order to open Dark Island to the visiting public. Tours were initiated in 2003. Despite losses over the years, the interior of the castle retains its original character, with most of the Bourne-Thayer furnishings. Unlike nearby Boldt Castle, Dark Island always served as a private residence, until opened to the public for tours.
In 2006, Dark Island was listed for sale through Sotheby's International Realty for $22 million.
The castle was featured in the 2000 film, The Skulls
An episode of The Great Escape was filmed at Singer Castle but it never aired.
The Canadian folk rock band Great Lake Swimmers recorded part of their 2009 album Lost Channels at the castle. The album includes an interlude consisting of 48 seconds of the castle bells chiming.
Graceland is a mansion on a 13.8-acre (5.6-hectare) estate in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, which was once owned by rock musician Elvis Presley. His daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, inherited Graceland after his death in 1977. Graceland is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the Whitehaven neighborhood, about nine miles south of central Memphis and fewer than four miles (6.4 km) north of the Mississippi border.
Alexandria Bay is a village in Jefferson County, New York, United States, within the town of Alexandria. It is located in the Thousand Islands region of northern New York. The population of the village was 1,078 at the 2010 United States Census. It lies near the Thousand Islands Border Crossing of Canada and the United States.
The Thousand Islands constitute a North American archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada–US border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. They stretch for about 50 miles (80 km) downstream from Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian islands are in the province of Ontario and the U.S. islands in the state of New York.
Hammond is a town in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 1,191 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from early land owner Abijah Hammond.
The Singer Building was an office building and early skyscraper in Manhattan, New York City. The headquarters of the Singer Manufacturing Company, it was at the northwestern corner of Liberty Street and Broadway in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. Frederick Gilbert Bourne, leader of the Singer Company, commissioned the building, which architect Ernest Flagg designed in multiple phases from 1897 to 1908. The building's architecture contained elements of the Beaux-Arts and French Second Empire styles.
Historically, an estate comprises the houses, outbuildings, supporting farmland, and woods that surround the gardens and grounds of a very large property, such as a country house or mansion. It is the modern term for a manor, but lacks a manor's now-abolished jurisdictional authority. It is an "estate" because the profits from its produce and rents are sufficient to support the household in the house at its center, formerly known as the manor house. Thus, "the estate" may refer to all other cottages and villages in the same ownership as the mansion itself, covering more than one former manor. Examples of such great estates are Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, England, and Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, England, built to replace the former manor house of Woodstock.
Boldt Castle is a major landmark and tourist attraction in the Thousand Islands region of the U.S. state of New York. Open to guests seasonally between mid-May and mid-October, it is located on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River. Heart Island is part of the Town of Alexandria, in Jefferson County. Originally a private mansion built by American millionaire George Boldt, it is now maintained by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority as a tourist attraction.
Commodore Frederick Gilbert Bourne was an American businessman. He served as the 5th President of the Singer Manufacturing Company between 1889 and 1905. He made the business "perhaps the first modern multinational industrial enterprise of any nationality".
Ernest Flagg was an American architect in the Beaux-Arts style. He was also an advocate for urban reform and architecture's social responsibility.
Edward Francis Hutton was an American financier and co-founder of E. F. Hutton & Co., once one of the largest financial firms in the United States.
Glensheen, the Historic Congdon Estate is a 20,000 square foot mansion in Duluth, Minnesota, United States, operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth as a historic house museum. Glensheen sits on 12 acres of waterfront property on Lake Superior, has 39 rooms and is built in the Jacobean architectural tradition, inspired by the Beaux-Arts styles of the era. The mansion was constructed as the family home of Chester Adgate Congdon. The building was designed by Minnesota architect Clarence H. Johnston Sr., with interiors designed by William A. French Co. and the formal terraced garden and English style landscape designed by the Charles Wellford Leavitt firm out of New York. Construction began in 1905 and completed in 1908. The home cost a total of $854,000, equivalent to more than $22 million in 2017. The home is a crowning example of design and craftmanship of the Midwestern United States in the early 20th century.
Howth Castle and estate lie just outside the village of Howth, County Dublin in Ireland, in the administration of Fingal County Council. The castle was the ancestral home of the line of the St Lawrence family that had held the area since the Norman Invasion of 1180, and held the title of Lord of Howth until circa 1425, the Baron Howth to 1767, then Earl of Howth until 1909. The castle and estate are held since 1909 by their distaff heirs, the Gaisford-St Lawrence family.
Indian Neck Hall was a country residence of Frederick Gilbert Bourne, president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Located on the Great South Bay in Oakdale, New York, it was reputed to have been the largest estate on Long Island when it was built in 1897.
Oheka Castle, also known as the Otto Kahn Estate, is a hotel located on the North Shore of Long Island, in West Hills, New York, also known as the "Gold Coast," a hamlet in the town of Huntington. It was the country home of investment financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn and his family. The name "Oheka" is an acronym using the first several letters of each part of its creator's name, Otto Hermann Kahn, which Kahn also used to name his yacht Oheka II and his ocean-front Villa Oheka in Palm Beach, Florida. The mansion, built by Kahn between 1914 and 1919, is the largest private home in New York, and the second largest in the United States, comprising 127 rooms and over 109,000 sq ft (10,100 m2), as originally configured.
G. W. & W. D. Hewitt was a prominent architectural firm in the eastern United States at the turn of the twentieth century. It was founded in Philadelphia in 1878, by brothers George Wattson Hewitt (1841–1916) and William Dempster Hewitt (1847–1924), both members of the American Institute of Architects. The firm specialized in churches, hotels and palatial residences, especially crenelated mansions such as Maybrook (1881), Druim Moir (1885–86) and Boldt Castle (1900–04). The last was built for George C. Boldt, owner of Philadelphia's Bellevue-Stratford Hotel (1902–04), G.W. & W.D. Hewitt's most well-known building.
Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt was the wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and reigned as the matriarch of the Vanderbilt family for over 60 years.