Despite my professed love for the Harlem Line, I do in fact visit quite a few other locations and post photos… and today’s collection is no exception. Unfortunately for my dear Harlem, this time I cheated on him with his little brother, the Hudson. If you’ve ever been on the upper portion of Metro North’s Hudson Line you may have noticed a castle on an island in the Hudson. In fact you may have seen the collapse of the castle on your train ride past the island… Metro-North workers were the first to report the collapse of the castle last December to the trust that is attempting to restore the castle.
Although most people today know the island simply as Bannerman’s Island, the true name is Pollepel Island. Scottish immigrant and New York businessman Francis Bannerman purchased the island in 1900. By 1901 a castle for his business and residence had been built on the island for his family.
Francis Bannerman VI, better known as Frank, began collecting scrap at the harbor to sell as a young boy. As he got older, and after the Civil War, he began purchasing military surplus from government auctions and amassed quite the collection of ammunition – which he formed into a business called “Bannerman’s” in 1865. As having so much ammunition in the heart of Brooklyn began to be a safety issue, the island was a perfect location for his business.
Today, the island is a part of the Hudson Highlands State Park. Unfortunately, it is not quite the jewel it once was. Besides the two collapses in the past year, the castle was ravaged by fire in 1969. Many portions of the castle became covered in vines over time, which amusingly might be helping to hold the structure together. The Bannerman Castle Trust is attempting to preserve and restore the castle, but are desperately in need of funding. As we wait the castle will continue to crumble, and perhaps be lost forever: with little money to spend they’ve chosen to attempt to restore the residence first, since it is in better condition than the castle itself.
If you’re interested in learning more about the castle, taking a tour, or donating to the Bannerman Castle Trust, be sure to check out their website here: bannermancastle.org.