Singer Castle – Chippewa Bay, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Singer Castle

Chippewa Bay, New York

This island castle contains enough secret passageways to support a season of Scooby-Doo episodes. 


While Singer Castle is the lesser-known castle in this area, those visiting the Thousand Islands region that only venture to Boldt Castle are missing out on an amazing wonder. 

Visitors must travel by boat to Dark Island, the ominous-sounding spot of land that bears Singer Castle. Along the way are several impressive houses on private islands, but Singer Castle humbles them all.

The island garnered its name from early navigators as it appeared dark with its high granite peak that was covered with giant pine trees. The castle was built between 1902 and 1904 for Commodore Frederick Gilbert Bourne, the fourth president of the Singer Sewing Manufacturing Company. He commissioned renowned architect Ernest Flagg, famous for having designed both the Singer and Chrysler buildings in New York City. When he started designing Singer Castle, Flagg had just finished reading Sir Walter Scott’s Woodstock. The novel describes a castle that was used as a hunting lodge for a king. The structure contained hidden passageways and secret escape routes for the monarch. As a result, Singer Castle is filled with secret corridors.

A tour of the castle is available and Singer is cleverly constructed and interestingly furnished. In one of the dining rooms is a portrait of a family ancestor hanging opposite the head of the table. Servants could take a secret passage behind that wall and tilt the painting to look in on those dining below.

Tours venture through servant’s quarters and even a Guilded Age health spa. The castle also includes a dungeon, although it’s unclear how it was used.

Singer Castle is a must-see destination. The castle is not privately occupied anymore, and the company which owns it rents out one wing of the castle for overnight stays. 

Know Before You Go

There are several boat tour companies in the region and many will have a two castle package that includes a trip to Boldt and Singer.

When on the boat, wear a jacket. Even on a day that's very warm, the breeze off St. Lawrence is cold.

Renters have access to the entire castle for $700 a night (as of 2020).

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