Singer Castle on Dark Island of the Thousand Islands is a marvel straight out of a storybook. Literally! The architect, Ernest Flagg (1857-1947), based his design around the medieval castle depicted in Sir Walter Scott’s 1832 novel Woodstock.

frederick_gilbert_bourneOriginally named The Towers, the castle is presently named Singer Castle because its original owner, Frederick Bourne (1851-1919) was the fifth president of the Singer Manufacturing Company of sewing fame.

The son of a New England minister, Bourne grew up in New York City and began working at the Clark O.N.T. (Our New Thread) Company in his early teens. In his spare time he enjoyed singing in the Trinity Church choir and his employer, George Clark, invited him to perform for his business contacts. Little did he know this little performance would be his big break, for it landed him a job as a stenographer at the Singer Manufacturing Company. He quickly ascended the ranks and became president by the age of 36.

He had 110-room summer residence in Long Island and owned the entire first floor of New York City’s famous Dakota Apartments. Next on his list he wish to surprise his wife and children with a hunting island retreat. In the Gilded Age, constructing castles became a sort of hobby for self-made millionaires of humble origins. In addition to being president of Singer, Bourne successfully dabbled in a number of business ventures and was practically American royalty. Why not build a castle?  

Constructed between 1902 and 1905, Bourne spent $500,000 building the four-story, 28 room castle. Complete with secret passageways, spiral staircases that lead nowhere, and furnished with arms and armor, the Gothic Revival structure is every inch a fantasy palace and a sight to behold.

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Bourne died in 1919 and daughters May and Marjorie acquired ownership, residing in the castle until 1961 when they sold it to LaSalle Military Academy of Long Island. In 1965, LaSalle sold the castle to the Harold Martin Evangelistic Society who renamed the castle Jorstadt and hosted Sunday services. Dark Island Tours acquired the castle in 2002 and put millions into restoring the castle and transforming it into a major tourist attraction.

Literary inspiration and secret passages…what are you waiting for?

Bibliography:
Brief HistorySinger Castle of Dark Island.
Lunman, Kim. “The Castle of Secrets.” Thousand Islands Life.
Mondore, Patty. “Frederick G. Bourne and ‘The Things That Matter Most.’ Thousand Islands Life.

 

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