Restoring a Scottish Castle on the Hudson

Updated at: 01/27/2014 1:29 PM
By: Networx

Photo: H.L.I.T./FlickrIf you're an urban exploration lover like me, you might spend your time scoping out cool abandoned places to visit, and your travel plans could, now and then, include stops at interesting sites. One locale I've always wanted to check out is Bannerman Castle, a fascinating historic oddity on the Hudson River in New York, but by all accounts, I'd better hurry. Unless New York historic preservation remodeling companies can work fast, the structure may be destroyed by the elements.

The structure was built in the early 1900s by Francis Bannerman IV, a munitions dealer hailing from Scotland. He built what was effectively a replica of a Scottish castle on his own private island, and included storage space in the castle for munitions. Initially, it was an amazing architectural treasure and a marvel to see, but when he died in 1918, his family couldn't handle the upkeep, and it began to fall into disrepair, compounded by a munitions explosion in 1920 and a fire in the 1960s.

Storm damage in the early 2000s made the situation even worse. Bannerman Castle was rapidly going from abandoned and interesting relic to death-trap, forcing the Bannerman Trust to enter a fight against time; can they restore the building before it was too late? They're seeking funding for a variety of restoration projects including stabilizing the castle and maintaining the gardens, ensuring that Bannerman Castle can continue to remain an interesting and relatively safe destination for visitors.

Thanks to the work of volunteers and offerings from donors, the Trust is getting closer to the goal of preserving and protecting Bannerman Castle, which is good news. It's such a historically interesting building that it would be a shame to see it go, especially with its colorful past, and it marks an important era in New York history as a surviving mansion from the Gilded Age.

While it almost feels like poor Bannerman Castle is cursed, judging from the number of unfortunate incidents that have caused structural damage (and the relatively short time that Bannerman himself was able to enjoy it), hopefully the Bannerman Trust can lift whatever bad luck hovers over the castle as they work on restoration and conservation efforts.

Today, the site is reported to be quite beautiful and fascinating, with the state-owned island boasting a variety of trails and gardens in addition to, of course, the decaying castle itself. While Bannerman Castle isn't likely to become a full service B&B any time soon (for one thing, the lack of a roof is a definite issue), there's a chance it will live on through the work of conservationists, a reminder of the value of working to preserve historic structures.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.

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