These ruins hold 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 frise” were placed in the surrounding waters in order to damage British ships and protect the Hudson Highlands territory. Since that time, there have only been 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), which donated the island to the people of the State of New York.
Francis Bannerman, the namesake of the island, sold military goods in NYC and the island became his storage site after he had to move his supply outside of the city and saw the island when canoeing up the Hudson. He built the castle for him and his wife to reside in in 1901, mimicking the Scottish castles of his home country.
In its earlier history, Native American tribes thought it was haunted since it was uninhabited and only accessible by boat, and Dutch sailors continued these rumors and tales about the island.
Today, the island hosts weekly tours that include a 30-minute boat ride to Bannerman Island, a guided 1.5-hour walking tour of the island that includes visit the famous Bannerman Castle ruins and gardens, a visit to the Bannerman Garden and Bannerman Residence, where you’ll learn about the history of the family and business, and a return trip back on the “Estuary Steward.”
It leaves from Beacon, NY, the perfect weekend getaway from NYC!
Another cool option is doing your own tour of the island and castle — by kayak or canoe! You do need to provide your own boat for this experience (there are no rentals), but if you have one this looks like a pretty amazing way to see the island. Though this is mostly self-guided, a Bannerman Castle Trust Historian will be on hand to answer questions about the island and give two different 20-minute tours about its history. These are exclusive tours with a limited amount of tickets available.
They also host movies nights in the summer and fall, and limited farm-to-table dinners on the island. And live musical performances on the third Sunday of the month!
Find out more of their website here! Currently, the Trust is working to raise funds to stabilize and prevent further damage to the beautiful castle ruins.