Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Thousand Island House Hotel

By Susan G Mathis

The Thousand Island House Hotel sat along the St. Lawrence River in Alexandria Bay, NY, with an adjacent island called Staples Island where Col. Orin G. Staples built a recreation pavilion to accompany the opulent hotel he built on the mainland.

Contructed in 1873 after President Grant visited the area, the hotel could accommodate 700 guests with beautiful views, luxury accommodations, and a huge dining room that could seat all their guest and then some, plus have entertainment.

Both classes were welcomed here—an uncommon occurrence at the time. There were accommodations for both the common fisherman and the wealthy aristocrat from Watertown, Utica, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Chicago and more. Word of mouth quickly spread of this amazing summer resort, and groups of friends and family came year after year.

The four floors of the hotel held an office, parlors, reception rooms, reading rooms, bar, billiard room, a telegraph office, barber shop, dining room, bathrooms and bedrooms, family suites, and a special wing for a public dining room 110x40 ft and 27 feet high!

On the fourth floor, a large balcony looked over the river. Magnificent piazzas were close to the shore surrounded by lovely gardens, and 624-foot grand promenade veranda wrapped around the hotel. Grounds were beautiful with walks and flower beds, stone summer houses with lichen-covered walls, shade trees, and a lush lawn. The hotel illuminated the grounds nightly, with fireworks set off occasionally throughout the summer.

The hotel boasted an elevator, gas and electricity, plumbing, private baths. They held morning concerts, evening dances, and fancy balls. And on the adjoining Staples Island, an entertainment and recreation pavilion was built in 1902 for hotel patrons. The facility included card and table game rooms, bowling allies, billiards, table tennis, lawn tennis, croquet, a swimming pool, bathing rooms, dance pavilions, a garden roof, afternoon teas, grill and entertainment. Of course, fishing and boating were available with guides at the ready.

There were also rooms for children’s nurseries, and this is where I placed my protagonist, Addison Bell—Addi—in my latest Thousand Islands Gilded Age story, A Summer at Thousand Island House.

About A Summer at Thousand Island House

By Susan G Mathis

She came to work with the children, not fall in love.

Part-nanny, part entertainer, Addison Bell has always had an enduring love for children. So what better way to spend her creative energy than to spend the summer nannying at the renowned Thousand Island House on Staple’s Island? As Addi thrives in her work, she attracts the attention of the recreation pavilion’s manager, Liam Donovan, as well as the handsome Navy Officer Lt. Worthington, a lighthouse inspector, hotel patron, and single father of mischievous little Jimmy.

But when Jimmy goes missing, Addi finds both her job and her reputation in danger. How can she calm the churning waters of Liam, Lt. Worthington, and the President, clear her name, and avoid becoming the scorn of the Thousand Islands community?


Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. She has eleven in her fiction line including Mary’s Moment. Find out more at


  1. Thank you for posting another description of a building In this beautiful area.

  2. What a gorgeous place and setting, and so modern for its time. I can see why people of every class would want to spend time away there. And such a grand setting for a book! I should add it to my list of places to visit if we ever get back that way again. :) Thanks for the post, Susan!