Bannerman Castle is located on Pollopel island, 6 3/4 acres of mostly rock in the Hudson river near Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. It was built by Frank Bannerman VI, not as a home, but as a place to store items such as weapons and ammunition that he purchased at government auctions. Frank Bannerman personally designed the island's buildings, docks, turrets, garden walls and moat in the style of old Scottish castles.
In 1967, the family sold Bannerman Castle to New York State, which had plans to open the Island as a park, and for a short time in 1968 they ran tours of the island. But the night of August 8, 1969, a fire of unknown origin destroyed all of the buildings.
There is now a group called the Bannerman Castle Trust, an organization dedicated to stabilizing the ruins of Bannerman Castle and opening the island to the public.
From "Victorian Homes" magazine, June 1997: Bannerman's Castle, now in ruins, was built by Francis Bannerman at the turn of the century and was modeled on a Scottish castle. Even when it was new the castle looked spooky and no wonder: Bannerman collected firearms and weapons; his wife believed she had been the Queen of England in a previous life.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
My name is Neil Caplan. I am the President of the Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc., a not for profit "friends organization working with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Our purpose is to preserve Bannerman Castle as a historical, educational and historic site and to safely open it to the public.
I was pleased to see that you included Bannerman Castle on your Castles of the United States Website. There are many stories about the castle and the people who lived there. Many of these stories are interesting, however, there are a lot of stories that are not true. The story about Mrs. Bannerman believing she was the queen of England, I believe is false. There is a story about a fisherman named Ward, (related to Henry Ward Beecher) who live in a small shack on the island with his wife. The Wards were the only people who lived on the island prior to when the castle was built. Since there was no one else living on the island and there was nothing for Mrs. Ward to do. She pretended to be Queen Victoria of England to pass her time. She also pretended that her husband was Prince Albert and Pollepel, the small island they lived on was England. Mrs. ward was said to be crazy.
I believe somewhere down the line, Mrs. Ward's story was turned into Mrs. Bannerman's. Perhaps it made a more interesting story to make Mrs. Bannerman seem like she was crazy and believe to have been the Queen of England in another life. I was told that Mrs. Bannerman became forgetful and some what senile when she got older. Senility does not make a person crazy.
There are many wonderful stories about the island and the people who lived there. The castle continues to fascinate people today. For more information about Bannerman Castle and the activities of the Bannerman Castle Trust, you can E- Mail me at Neilcaplan@aol.com, or call me at 914-831-6346.
For more information, visit an excellent homepage on the subject
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Later, I received E-Mail that said:
The Bannerman Castle official website:
Many great pictures of the castle at this site before it fell into ruin and was burnt.
At the beginning of the 20th century Francis Bannerman VI's son David noticed that Pollepel's isolation made it a likely candidate for the relocation of the family's burgeoning military surplus business. Born in Scotland, Mr. Bannerman designed the arsenal and it's adjoining structures in the manner of a baronial castle. The elder Bannerman purchased the island in 1900 and began construction the following year.
From the start the castle served as a gigantic advertisement. First, the north side of the #1 warehouse was whitewashed, then painted with the address of Bannerman's retail store. Later Bannerman cast in cement letters 4-1/2 feet tall the words "Bannerman's Island Arsenal." This was on both north and east facing walls, in plain view of the major transportation routes of the day: Hudson River steam ships and the New York Central Railroad.
Today the castle is a property of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. A fantastic ruin, the castle, harbor, and island is off-limits to the public.
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Photo by Thom Johnson.