Abandoned Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island, New York
Businessman Francis Bannerman VI bought Pollepel Island, located on the Hudson River in New York, in 1900. He needed a place to store an arsenal. A place to store helmets, haversacks, mess kits and munitions he could not store in his thriving military surplus store in New York City (also, city officials were antsy about warehousing gun powder).
Bannerman wanted a building that would look like an old Scottish castle, complete with a moat, turrets, towers and impossible-to-miss letters on the side reading “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal.” Workers also built a house that looked like a little castle for the Bannerman family elsewhere on the 6.5-acre (2.6-hectare) island.
"The buildings were out of a fairy tale," said Bannerman Castle Trust executive director Neil Caplan. “They were the medieval castle structures that you see here today that are based on castles all throughout Europe, which make up this baronial Scottish design that Bannerman created here as his own wonderful play land.”
Bannerman died in 1918. The family sold the island to New York state in 1967. Plans for Pollopel Island to become a tourist attraction were thwarted in 1969 when a fire destroyed much of the main building’s internal structure and the castle and grounds fell into ruin.
Long before Bannerman purchased the island, the local Native Americans steered clear of the uninhabited island as it was rumored to be filled with evil spirits. The legends go back to Colonial times and there are many who still believe the island is haunted.
Today the not-for-profit Bannerman Castle Trust has been raising money since 1993 to clear paths, replant gardens, stabilize the buildings and make the island visitor friendly. Not only are guided walking tours of the island available, the Trust is even staging plays to add more reasons for tourist to visit the incredible castle island in New York.
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