Francis Bannerman


His name was Francis Bannerman. He had come to the United States from his native Scotland when he was three years old and he and his family lived in Brooklyn. He worked in trade. He had specialized in purchasing American army surplus.

The American Civil War and then the Cuban war had indeed left behind a mountain of subsequently useless weapons. Bannerman purchased these from the government at a rather low price, to resell to foreign countries at war.

Simultaneously, he amassed the most formidable collection of weapons in existence. Soon enough his warehouses were too small to hold the enormous quantities of equipment he had accumulated.

Therefore, along the Hudson River upstream from New York City, he found a little island across from the charming city of Beacon.

He bought it and had a warehouse built for his weapons; but it was not just any sort of warehouse. He had the exterior made to look like a castle from his native Scotland. He added a residence on to it, where he and his family would spend their vacations.
When Bannerman died, the castle and warehouses were emptied. They fell into ruin. Today they still stand on that small wooded island, the most fantastic ruins in the United States: romantic, slightly terrifying, and most particularly, completely inaccessible.
Frightened that stones might fall from the walls and wound or kill tourists, the foundation responsible for its upkeep forbidden anyone to set food on the island. Furthermore, neither port area nor any nearby island is equipped allow even the most intrepid visitors to accost the shores. A delight for the ghosts because no one ever bothers them.

The whole region tells stories about lights coming on at night, noises, sightings, and silhouettes. Nobody in the area goes there, not just because of the potential falling rocks, but also because the dead can prove to be aggressive.

I fantasized about going to the island as clandestinely as possible to visit those ruins, but I had to content myself with just looking at them from shore. They appeared more inviting than ever. I swore to myself that I would go back some day.

by  Prince Michael of Greece

2 comments on “BANNERMAN CASTLE

  1. Kathy Thompson

    Going to visit Bannerman Castle now does not involve moonlight swims or clandestine trespassing. The island is owned by the State of NY, and is under the care of the Bannerman Castle Trust. There are walking tours available, outdoor performances and volunteer opportunities available. The buildings are still ruins, but the gardens are being tended as, hopefully, the money is raised to shore up, and possibly restore the structures. It’s not quite as romantically mysterious, but I’m glad this little piece of history is not being allowed to crumble away!

  2. Daphne

    Dear Michel,
    What a joy it is to receive your stories of places, people and ghosts, at a time when beautiful, mysterious places are either abandoned or overrun by tourists, people are afraid to be original or ‘different’ in any way and poor ghosts have nowhere to go. Still ‘we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past’ and what a wealth of wonders there are there.
    Thank you

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