After finishing a documentary DVD, a book, and then an updated version of our movie, we were pretty sure that we had completed the last major publication Gold-Mountain would produce on our favorite castle on Dark Island. We were wrong.
But before we get to that, perhaps it would help to first introduce you to Singer Castle. Singer Castle is the magnificent 100-year old castle now open to the public on Dark Island located in the Chippewa Bay area of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The castle was completed in 1905 by world renowned architect Ernest Flagg, for the island’s new owner, Frederick G. Bourne who was, at the time, the President of the Singer Manufacturing Company. It was Bourne who built the Singer Company into of the most successful conglomerates in the world making him one of the wealthiest men in the world. While building a castle in the Thousand Islands may sound like an impressive undertaking, for Bourne this was just one of many buildings and properties he owned. In fact, he fondly referred to his 28-room island get-away as his “hunting lodge.” The castle was modeled after Woodstock, the castle described in Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel by the same title, complete with turrets, secret passageways, a labyrinth and even a dungeon. Also based on the Woodstock novel, Bourne named his castle “The Towers.”
Frederick Bourne and his family (including his seven surviving children) all enjoyed the castle up until his death in 1919. During his lifetime, Bourne added several additions to the castle including the fifth story clock tower, an expanded breakfast room, and another inside slip to the south boathouse. After his death, it was his youngest daughter Marjorie Bourne who eventually took full possession of the castle. She married Alexander Thayer in 1926 and the Thayers continued to enjoy their summer castle adding several additions of their own including a private living quarters and a squash court. Before she died, Marjorie deeded the castle to the LaSalle Christian Brothers for a dollar. When the Christian Brothers realized they could not find a suitable use for the castle, they sold it to the Harold Martin Evangelistic Association owned by Dr. Harold Martin and his wife Eloise in 1965.
The Martins renamed the castle to Jorstadt after Dr. Martin’s grandfather who was a Norwegian Sea captain. It was the Martins who first opened the castle to the public by holding weekly Sunday chapel services followed by a free tour. I not only attended those services but eventually became known as the castle singer and pianist at the weekly services. Dr. Martin passed away in 1999. Rev. Harvey and Flo Jones continued the summer services for the Martins up until its sale in 2002 to its present owners, Dark Island Tours, Inc who opened the doors to the public once again in 2003, this time as a major tourist attraction.
I was admittedly a bit disappointed when the new owners didn’t take me up on my offer of a castle that came with its own singer (although, they did rename it to Singer Castle). However, after having spent over 15 years there, my husband and I decided that the next best way to remain connected with the castle we had come to love so much was to record its history. Our first production was our documentary DVD, “Dark Island’s Castle of Mysteries” released in 2002. Shortly after that, we wrote the book, Singer Castle for Arcadia’s Images of America Series. We updated our DVD in 2006 and thought, at the time, that we had pretty much exhausted the subject until Bob started his now popular Singer Castle Blog in 2009. That would certainly be our final (yet ongoing) word on the subject. Or perhaps not.
The first hint we had that we might want to consider revisiting Singer Castle was after we started communicating with one of the relatives of Frederick Bourne. We not only became friends (after all, we do share a common interest), but he also shared a wealth of all new (at least new to us) family and historical photos of the castle whose history we thought we already thoroughly knew.
Still, even with a truckload of new pictures and new details on the castle’s rich history, we still weren’t sure there was enough dramatically new materials to justify a whole new… anything. Then, late last summer one of the castle’s owners contacted us. At first, his main interest was in getting the word out, perhaps through updating our first book, Singer Castle that their investment in the castle had gone far beyond the initial $1.8 million that they had purchased it with. After sharing just a few of the extraordinary expenses and renovations that they had put into the castle even in these first few years, we started to agree that people needed to know some of what it took to create the major tourist attraction it has become to the area today. So, we made the initial call to the publisher to see what the possibility might be of updating our book and including some of the details.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from that first call, but I think that the last thought in my mind was for the publisher to suggest a whole new book. But after sharing some of the new pictures, historical facts, and updates, that is exactly what they did. And anyone who has ever worked with the publishing industry knows enough to never turn down an offer for a book deal. Thus, Singer Castle Revisited was first conceived and in May, 2010, just about nine months later it will be released.
Thanks to the graciousness of Frederick Bourne’s grandson, and eventually Dr. Harold Martin's nephew, and finally, the wonderful assistance of Singer Castle President, Tom Weldon, and historian, Judy Keeler, we ended up with more than enough new material for a brand new book. We'd love to tell you all about it but, on the other hand, we wouldn't want to give too much information away. It is, after all, a "Castle of Mysteries".
By Patty Mondore
Patty and her husband, Bob, are summer residents of the Thousand Islands. Patty is a published author and a singer/song writer. Her books include To
Love, Honor and OH BOY, A Good Paddling, Proclaim His Praise in the Islands, and Perennial Faith. She and Bob, co-authored Singer Castle, published by Arcadia Publishing. Their newest book, Singer Castle Revisited, also published by Arcadia Publishing, is due out in May, 2010. Patty is also a contributing writer for the Thousand Islands Sun. Her column, “River-Lations”, which appears in the Vacationer throughout the summer months features inspirational stories and photos of the Thousand Islands. The Mondores are co-owners of Gold-Mountain (www.gold-mountain.com), a web-based, multi-media business.
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to tell our readers that the authors of Singer Castle Revisited tell us the book includes: “Never-before-seen historical photos taken back at the time the castle was being constructed; Updated details and pictures of each of the additions made by its various owners; Newly acquired pictures of the castle's first owner, Frederick G. Bourne and his family; Previously unpublished pictures and details about Marjorie Bourne and Alexander Thayer; The mystery book previously published about Dark Island back in the 1920's; Historical photos of the Bourne/Thayer family's many yachts and speedboats; Pictures and history of the later owners, the Harold G. Martin family; An in depth look at the renovations and restoration completed by Dark Island Tours, Inc, since purchasing the castle in 2002; The mysterious occupant of the Singer Castle dungeon, And much, much, more!
Singer Castle Revisited is due to be released on May 31, 2010. For more information you can visit Arcadia Publishing or www.gold-Mountain.com.