Just Released: Singer Castle (© 2005 Arcadia - Images of America Series) - the book!
Also Available: Dark Island's Castle of Mysteries (© 2002 Gold-Mountain) - the documentary video
If you've visited my personal page in the past you may have seen the pictures of Jorstadt Castle. Jorstadt Castle on Dark Island has been a major part of our lives for many years. In August of 2002, Dark Island was sold to a group of investors who have since reopened it to the public (you can now read all about it on their new Singer Castle web site) but please don't leave before checking out ours! While we were sad to see our part in the Castle's history come to an end, we are happy to know this amazing building will be cared for, restored to its original condition, and then shared with the public. But along with the building, itself, it is very important to us that its rich history is not lost. Some of that history is recorded below in my tribute to Jorstadt. In addition, my husband and I created an hour-long tribute/documentary video in the hope that the full story of the Castle on Dark Island will be told for generations to come. And new this year, our book, Singer Castle is now available from Arcadia Publishing Company.
Important castle film completion notice.
Click here for more information.
Jorstadt Castle is located on what the nautical charts refer to as Dark Island in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Island was so named by early navigators to whom it appeared dark with its high granite peak covered with giant pine trees. The Castle was built between 1902 and 1904 for Commodore Frederick Gilbert Bourne, fourth President of the Singer Sewing Manufacturing Company. Bourne, an avid boater, hunter and fisherman, had purchased the island with the intent of having a hunting lodge built there. He commissioned the renowned architect Ernest Flagg, to design a real castle for the Island. At the same time, Flagg, who was famous for having designed both the Singer and Chrysler buildings in New York City had just finished reading Sir Walter Scott's Woodstock which described a castle that was used as a royal hunting lodge in England, not far from Oxford. (According to many, Sir Walter Scott is by far considered the greatest figure in Scottish literature, and has only one rival in the English tongue.) Hence, the castle Frederick G. Bourne eventually built on Dark Island was modeled after the one that had stood in Woodstock Park during the reign of England's Charles I, complete with dungeons, turrets and secret passageways. The Castle which, at that time, was called "The Towers" became the summer home and fall hunting lodge of the Bourne family. It was willed to the LaSalle Military Academy which could not find a suitable use for it and sold it to the Harold Martin Evangelistic Association in 1965.
Dr. Martin, whose original family name was Martin-Jorstadt, officially changed the name of the Castle to Jorstadt. Then, for the first time in its history, Jorstadt opened its doors to the public. To quote Dr. Martin's wife Eloise, "In the belief that the rarities of this beautiful castle should be seen by people of our time, Dr. and Mrs. Martin not only open it to the public for Sunday chapel services and other special meetings, but they have also opened it for...various other worthy groups. The beauty and wonders of Jorstadt Castle must literally be seen to be believed; for such enchanting places are seldom built more often than 'once upon a time.'" True to her word, the Martins began running Sunday services, opening this magnificent Castle to the public. That's where I came in. When my parents built a camp on the Seaway we were intrigued by the stories we heard about these services and went to see it for ourselves. Dr. & Mrs. Martin were most gracious hosts and, to our delight, their message was straight from the Bible. They had opened their home to the world not just to show off a magnificent edifice, but perhaps even more, so they could tell as many people about their wonderful God. The message at Jorstadt Castle has always been that God truly loves you just the way you are. I am certain it was not by coincidence that they had no one to play the piano for them on one of those first few times we came to the services. It was only natural for me to volunteer and I have been the Castle pianist and soloist there ever since.
Over those early years, I had the great privilege and blessing of getting to know Dr. & Mrs. Martin quite well. I will never forget what Mrs. Martin once told me
regarding the weekly church services they held at Jorstadt. She told me that if, in opening their private home to the public each week, even one person came to
know the Lord it would be worth it all. God granted Mrs. Martin her wish and far more. In fact, in the 35 years of summer services, countless lives have heard and received the message of God's love and salvation. Week after week the lovely channel view chapel often overflowed with people who came to worship the One who created this seaway wonderland we all love so much. In fact, many of those who came, came often enough that we got to know them and love them very much. We had, indeed, become an island congregation. After the Martins were no longer able to come to the island regularly, they graciously allowed several of the people who had attended there over the years to continue the services. That is how we came to know Harvey and Flo Jones. Over the last several years, Harvey volunteered to lead many of the services and I accompanied him both at the piano and in song. His wife, Flo, was always hard at work behind the scenes, cleaning, hostessing and contributing in countless ways to the castle ministry. While the services were taking on these new dynamics in the Martins' absence, there were some major changes taking place in my own life as well. God brought a most precious man into my life and I married Bob Mondore. Far from taking me away from the Castle ministry, my marriage only further enhanced my ties to this wonderful place. Bob immediately became involved, in his own quiet yet effective way, offering a spiritual strength and support to both me and the Jones (and at the same time, his camera was rolling). In November, 1999, Dr. Martin went Home to be with the Lord. He will be deeply missed by all of us but our prayers go out, in particular, to his wife, daughter and four sons. In his place, the Harold Martin Evangelistic Association was run by his oldest son, Wycliffe Martin, who graciously allowed the services to continue under the leadership of the now ordained Rev. Harvey Jones. And continue, we did. For over two years the Castle services continued even though Dark Island remained on the market.
I suppose we knew all along that the day would come when our time at Jorstadt would come to an end. The building, itself, was a continual reminder. We could see the subtle and some not-so-subtle tolls that time was taking on this remarkable edifice. And the small group of Sunday worshiper did not have the finances necessary to keep up with the aging structure's gradual decline. So, as much as we would have loved it to continue on forever, we also knew we would one day have to say "goodbye" to those days of services and song in the River chapel.
That is why, when the word came that the Castle had been sold to its current owners, there were so many tears - tears of both sorrow and joy. Yes, the magnificent building and its lovely grounds would once again be properly cared for, but the true sorrow was in all the good byes that would be said as this most special chapel would no longer continue its Sunday services. It was a bittersweet sorrow, however. We realized that many of the friends we made and loved ones we had to part with we would see again some day. Truly, that was the heart of the message preached at Jorstadt. The sign hanging in front of the chapel to welcome our guests declared, "God loves you, just the way you are." And He truly does! He told us, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3). In fact, He loves us so much He has invited each of us to spend eternity with Him, at His place. There is one problem, however. God is perfect and holy, and we are sinners, every last one of us. The Bible states that " all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). That leaves an insurmountable gap between us and God, that we simply can't cross, for "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Rm. 3:10). Only perfection can earn a place in God's kingdom. Sin, on the other hand, earns death. But that's not the bad news; that's the good news. The Bible assures us that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Yes, God loves you just the way you are. In fact, He loved you enough to die for you. We read that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). His love is a given. Eternal life with Him is a gift. The Bible tells us, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Whoever, means you! You need only reach out in faith and accept this most precious gift. If you are willing to receive Him, then He is more than willing to receive you into His kingdom. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3 KJV).
We will no longer be able to return to the magnificent Jorstadt Castle on the lovely St. Lawrence Seaway to sing, pray and worship with the friends we met there. We will, however, be able to worship together again some day in a far more lovely place; a place where there will be no more tears, no more good byes. A place where we will be eternally reunited with the God who loves us. The Bible describes this reunion saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:3,4). "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb " (Revelation 22:1). "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 7:17). Jesus declared, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son." (Revelation 21:6,7).
Those of us who had the opportunity to experience the beauty, the love, the fellowship and the wonder of Jorstadt Castle got a small taste of a far greater experience awaiting all who will open their hearts to the God who loves you, just the way you are. I hope to see you there!
August 2001 Update
Our Gold-Mountain web site is now listed in a new instant bestselling book just printed concerning the Thousand Islands' other castle... Boldt Castle. We are listed as a reference concerning Jorstadt Castle. Titled: Boldt Castle - In Search of the Lost Story, by Paul Malo, Syracuse University Professor Emeritus (Copyright 2001). It has taken the North Country by storm and has been featured in local newspaper articles as well as television news. Our site is cited on page 285. We do not offer the book, but it can be purchased directly from the author through this link.
December 2002 Update
The long awaited castle video is now out! My honey is now offering a pre-release to his documentary video to retell the story of this lovely place and to retell its exciting history in a way that has never been done before.
May 2005 Update
You loved the movie (thank you for your support). Now, you can read the book. We are pleased to announce that Arcadia Publishing Company has published our new book, Singer Castle, as a part of their Images of America Series. In researching the book, we discovered all kinds of previously unpublished pictures of the castle under construction along with several other surprises we don't want to give away here.
If you have any questions about the above tribute of Jorstadt (Singer) Castle, the video project, or the book you may e-mail us. We would love to hear from you. Thank you.
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