Hart House Inn

21979 Club Road, Wellesley Island, Jefferson County, New York

Built 1871, for Elizur Kirke Hart (1841-1893) of Albion, New York, and his wife, Louise Sanderson (1840-1913). The house was built on what is now Heart Island, but when the island was acquired by George Boldt (1851-1918) he had it dragged across the ice to its current position on Wellesley Island while he built Boldt Castle in its place. Situated in the Thousand Islands, today the old Hart House is an historic inn that was acquired by a new owner in 2011 who has refurbished it to a high standard. 

Hart's father - the founder of the Orleans County National Bank - had died in 1870 and with his inheritance Hart paid $100 for Hemlock Island bought from the brothers John and Charles Walton (1816-1901). Their father, Azariah Walton (1784-1855), had bought all 1,500 of the "Thousand Islands" on the American side of the St. Lawrence in 1845 for just $3,000. Hart renamed his island Hart Island and built a comfortable 30-room (not 80, as some like to claim!) summer house for his young family at a cost of $12,000.

The sizeable cottage was 84-foot long by 74-foot wide, offering 12,432 square feet of living space. The Harts summered here up until his death in 1893. That year, his widow sold the island to the multi-millionaire hotelier George Boldt (1851-1918). The Boldts lived there for a period while works began on the various outbuildings he was putting up on the island.

In 1899, George chose to build Boldt Castle in its place so that winter he moved the house to Wellesley Island, which he also owned, and where he had already put up several houses for his intended guests to Heart Island. Though altered over the years, it has remained there ever since, now occupying 2.29 acres with fine views.

In the early 1900s, the house was expanded to 50-rooms and became the clubhouse of the Thousand Islands Club. During the tail end of the Gilded Age, it was among the most exclusive clubs in New York. Just to join cost $100,000 and then the annual fee was $10,000. In 1944, the club was acquired by the Canadian Steamship Line (CSL). 

In 2005 it was purchased for $1.2 million by Arthur D. Mook and his wife, Jennifer Jo Morgan. They ran it as a bed-and-breakfast with eight guest suites and an upmarket restaurant. But, unfortunately the bank foreclosed on it in 2009. Two years later, it was acquired for $450,000 by Olga Stein of Toronto. She has refurbished it to a high standard and it now operates as the Historic Hart Island Inn.


Contributed by Mark Meredith on 09/02/2019 and last updated on 28/06/2020.


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