Sunday, November 19, 2023

Staples Island Entertainment Pavilion

by Susan G Mathis

During the Gilded Age, entertainment pavilions were all the fad, and at the Thousand Island House Resort in Alexandria Bay, New York, the lavish facilities were set on a tiny island—and they were amazing.

The Thousand Island House hotel was finished in 1873, the year after President Grant visited the islands with George Pullamn that began the Golden Age of the Thousand Islands. Col. Orin G Staples built the establishment in less than a year, and it quickly became a popular destination.

In 1902, the Thousand Island House built a spectacular recreation facility for hotel patrons on Staples Island—that was less than an acre—adjoining the hotel property. The recreation facility was exclusively for hotel patrons, though some esteemed visitors not staying at the hotel, still visited now and then, including President Chester Arthur.

The pavilion boasted the most modern facilities for entertaining those on summer holiday. The two-story building housed a billiard hall, a bowling alley, card and game rooms, a children's nursery, a swimming pool, men's and women's bathing rooms, and a dance pavilion. The garden roof hosted an area for women to enjoy afternoon tea and a grill area for men to enjoy conversations about business and their fishing exploits. Young children were attended by a nursery worker and older children had their own recreation leader.

Hotel patrons had only to cross the small footbridge connecting the pavilion's island to the mainland where the hotel stood to enjoy even more activities. On the mainland, there were tennis courts, badminton, croquet, and other sports as well as opportunities for boating, fishing, and regular music and dancing.

In this tiny summer community, such lavish entertainments rivaled those of the big cities of New York, Chicago, D.C., and Philadelphia, among others, from which many of the guests escaped the heat of summer in the city.

And the views of the St. Lawrence River were just as wonderful. From the island they could see Casa Blanca, Friendly Island, Hart Island, and further north, Sunken Rock Lighthouse, among others. Regular boat tours, including the famous Searchlight Tours, added to the fun.

Indeed, the Staples Island Entertainment Pavilion, and others like it, gave the rich and famous a summer full of enjoyment as well as much needed employment to the locals. Wouldn't it be interesting to live in such an age?

About A Summer at Thousand Island House:

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?

About Susan G Mathis:

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 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting. The Thousand Islands sounds like a beautiful place to while away a summer without a care in the world.