Whenever I say that I love New York, whenever I tell someone where I’m from, I never think of what I’ve grown up calling “upstate”. To me, the city has always been all there was. It’s not my fault–I grew up in the city; I used to spend my free Wednesdays at the Bronx Zoo, the Saturdays of my summer youth down in the village and drinking at St. Mark’s. Beyond that, I’d say I’ve spent a cumulative 5 days upstate over the course of my entire life, so there’s never been anything endearing for me to remember about it.
That was until I heard about Bannerman’s Island. Allow me to explain with a list:
- Originally Pollepel Island, it has its own history before it became Bannerman’s Island. Including a legend of the wind goblin that lived on the island and attacked whoever set foot on it. I am not kidding.
- It was purchased by an arms dealer named Frank Bannerman in 1900. An arms dealer. Allow me to provide another list right here explaining why Frank Bannerman was awesome:
-While he was still in school, he made his own business by collecting scraps from a navy yard and recycling them. And no, we’re not talking college. Or high school. Yeah.
-He designed all of the residences on his island. Including the castle. Bannerman’s Castle. The one that has cannons and cannonballs sticking out everywhere.
-He loved castles.
-Also, he was a religious man, so he didn’t drink.
-Oh, and he was considered an American hero by his countrymen.
- Arms and gunpowder were stored on the island by Frank Bannerman. At least until an accident involving said gunpowder nearly killed his wife with a large piece of storage shed.
- Also Bannerman’s Castle, the Bannerman’s residence, and the island itself are really pretty:
I was intentionally vague about the island and its history because I wouldn’t tell it half as well as any of the Bannerman Castle Trust tour guides. What I will say however is that last winter, a large part of Bannerman’s Castle collapsed. As sad as it is, there’s a chance this incredible piece of New York history may not see next year. Tours are only running until October, so don’t miss your opportunity to see the Castle before it’s gone, and don’t pass up the chance to learn more about Frank Bannerman himself.
Click here for more information.