Bannerman Castle

Bannerman Castle


Location: Hudson Island, NY  Map

Area: 6.5 acres

Constructed: 1901


Bannerman Castle is a picturesque structure that implements architecture of the European castle in United States. It is located on small Pollepel Island that covers an area of 6.5 acres in the Hudson river about 50 miles north of New York City. The name of the island of Pollepel is sometimes attributed to a Dutch words that literally means "a wooden spoon". The Dutch navigated Hudson River that was also known as the Northern Gate to get to the Hudson Highlands. Another theory claims it is named after a girl named Polly Pell who was stranded on the island once. Bannerman Castle initially served as a warehouse for military ammunitions.


History of Bannerman Castle

The Pollepel Island was first visited by the Natives. They never actually settled the islands since they considered it a haunted place unfit to live. The Dutch explorers also had similar sentiments about this piece of land and left this “Northern Gate” of the Hudson Highland unsettled. During Revolutionary War patriots attempted to prevent the British fleet from moving upstream by placing 106 chevaux de frize (vertical logs with iron tips) between the island and Plum Point. It did not have a desired effect although remains of this logs are still visible on the bottom of the Hudson river.

Bannerman’s castle was build in 1901 by Francis Bannerman VI (1851- 1918) as a additional storage arsenal for ammunition bought from US army upon conclusion of the Spanish- American war. Businessman wanted to advertise his name and words “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” are still visible on a side of the structure. The castle did not have a very lucky or very long history. Two years after death of its founder 200 pounds of shells and powder exploded destroying part of the structure. In 1950 a ferryboat Pollepel that served the island sank in a storm and the castle was left abandoned. In 1968 tours were given after removing military arsenal, but fire in 1969 burned much of the structure. Today Bannerman’s castle is property of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Bannerman’s Castle Trust. Regular tours are held, but many thrill- seekers still manage to trespass at night.


Current status
The castle is currently the property of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is mostly in ruins. While portions of the exterior walls still stand, all the internal floors and non-structural walls have since burned down. The island has been the victim of vandalism, trespass, neglect, and decay. Several old bulkheads and causeways that submerge at high tide present a serious navigational hazard. On-island guided hard hat tours were recently made available through the Bannerman's Castle Trust. The castle is easily visible to riders of the Metro-North Railroad Hudson Line and the Amtrak Empire Service. One side of the castle, which carries the words "Bannermans' Island Arsenal", is also visible to southbound riders.

Sometime during the week before December 28, 2009, parts of the castle collapsed. Officials estimate 30–40 percent of the structure's front wall and about half of the east wall fell. The collapse was reported by a motorist and by officials on the Metro-North.