The Thousand Island House in Alexandria Bay
One of the many grand hotels built during the Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands was the Thousand Island House, located in Alexandria Bay. Constructed in 1873, The Thousand Island House was of the same era as the nearby Frontenac Hotel on Round Island in Clayton, N.Y.
Some idea may be formed of the size of this hotel by comparing it to the Woodruff House of your city, and taking into account that the length exceeds the same by about 80 feet, with a wing in the shape of a T 100 by 40 feet–all 4 stories high, with a part of the building five stories. The Thousand Island House is built in the most substantial manner supported all through with iron rods 1.5 inches in diameter and is pronounced by the best mechanics and architects to be the best built as well as the largest frame building in the state.
Though it would be a few more weeks before it opened, the Watertown Daily Times would headline the Thousand Island House on its July 3 front page, with a detailed account–
This “Thousand Island House” as it is called, which will hereafter give luxurious accommodations to those who got to the islands, commands the finest views of the river in both directions, and most of the favorite islands and island groups may be seen from its lofty tower. It was named by Gen. S. D. Hungerford, banker at Adams, who has also presented the proprietors with a beautiful set of colors for the building.
What began with a lack of facilities available in Alexandria Bay just the summer before, resulted in a speedily constructed, luxurious hotel that could accommodate about 600 guests. The nearby Crossmon House was undergoing a major expansion at the same time and the two gave Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands region as a whole the world-class facilities that would help to put the area in the spotlight more than it had ever been.
On July 24th, the hotel finally opened with the Watertown Daily Times announcing it from its front page on July 16th. The formal opening would feature a number of events to commemorate the event, including a balloon ascension much like the ones in Watertown.
Unlike many of the hotels of the Gilded Age in the area, the Thousand Island House enjoyed a fairly long life in comparison lasting 63 years. Whereas many of the hotels of the era were lost in fires, it was the Great Depression that got the best of the hotel.
After not opening the prior year, Abe Cooper of Syracuse, who also operated a business on Factory Street in Watertown, purchased the property with plans to tear it down, salvaging as much of it as possible and build a summer home on the property.
Today, the land is occupied by the River Hospital. A silent film from travelfilmarchive on YouTube posted below features the Thousand Island House prominently in a few spots. The film is from around 1930.