The beautiful Bannerman Castle dates back to 1901 and is only 1.5 hours from NYC – but since it is on a remote island, you have to get there by boat!
These ruins have a fascinating history and sit on an island in the middle of the Hudson River – once called Pollepel, but now known as Bannerman’s Island.
According to its website, the island itself has a connection to the American Revolution, when “chevaux de frize” were placed in the surrounding waters to damage British ships and protect the Hudson Highlands territory. Since then, there have been only five owners of the island: William Van Wyck of Fishkill, Mary G. Taft of Cornwall, Francis Bannerman of Brooklyn, New York and The Jackson Hole Preserve (Rockefeller Foundation), who donated the island to the people of New York State. .
Francis Bannerman, the island’s namesake, sold military supplies in NYC, and the island became his repository after he had to move his supplies outside the city and saw the island when canoeing up the Hudson. He built the castle for him and his wife to live in 1901 and imitated the Scottish castles in his homeland.
In its earlier history, Native American tribes believed so haunted as it was uninhabited and only accessible by boat, and Dutch sailors continued these rumors and tales about the island. Perfect for this time of year…
Today, the island hosts weekly tours that include a 30-minute boat ride to Bannerman Island, a guided 1.5-hour hike on the island that includes visits to the famous Bannerman castle ruins and gardens, a visit to Bannerman Garden and Bannerman Residence, where you learn about the history of the family and business and a return trip back to “Estuary Steward.” It goes from Beacon, NY, the perfect weekend getaway from NYC!
Another cool option is to make your own tour of the island and the castle – by kayak or canoe! You need to provide your own boat for this experience (there are no rentals), but if you have one, it seems like a pretty great way to see the island. While this is mostly self-guided, a Bannerman Castle Trust Historian will be on hand to answer questions about the island and provide two different 20-minute tours about its history. These are exclusive tours with a limited number of tickets available.
They also host movie nights in the summer and fall and limited farmer-to-table dinners on the island. And live musical performances on the third Sunday of the month!
Find out more from their website here! The Trust is currently working to raise funds to stabilize and prevent further damage to the beautiful castle ruins.