One of the five most ambitious summer homes built here at the turn of the twentieth century, Carleton Villa was considered the finest when constructed in 1894. At the time, the Thousand Islands region was one of the elite resorts of the late Gilded Age. "Castles" and other magnificent country houses on this fifty-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River have attracted wide interest for more than a century.

Carleton Villa represents a fortune derived from Remington Arms Company production of rifles during the Civil War, but even more from the subsequent Remington Typewriter. The builder of Carleton Villa, William O. Wyckoff, foresaw the potential of the novel invention and developed national and international markets for it. He commissioned architect William Miller, known for his work at Cornell University and elsewhere, to design Carleton Villa. Although primarily a summer home, the large residence was provided with central heating for use in inclement weather.

Aerial photographs, shared here by Ian Coristine, appear in one of his Thousand Islands books, "Water, Wind and Sky," available on his web site: www.1000IslandsPhotoArt.com _________________HeaHear Ian Coristine's interview on public radio._ h

Carleton Villa has three levels plus cellar and attic. Above the main floor there are two stories containing bedrooms.On the main floor, three principle rooms flank a central "living hall" which extends from the main staircase at the far end to a large bay window viewing Lake Ontario, behind the central arch shown in the photograph above. The library, on the right side, as seen here, is connected to the entry porch by its own door. This gave access of estate staff to the owner without entering the private portions of the house. On the other side of the hall, are located a drawing room, with the large bay window seen to the left above, and the distinctive oval dining room beyond, within the projecting round tower. All these rooms have large openings to frame views. The living hall and library open onto a large covered outdoor seating area.

On the second floor, generously sized bedrooms are arranged around a mezzanine gallery open to the two-story space. They are remarkably bright and airy, having many very large windows. On the third floor, more bedrooms are arranged around the billiard hall, sky lit from above. The steep roofs provide and additional attic on the fourth level.

The cellars are remarkably commodious, with high, finished wood ceilings and generous windows for natural light. The villa was heated, so there is a boiler room, in addition to laundry and other service functions, having a separate exterior entrance. Levels for the villa are connected by a second service stair between the main portion of the house and the service wing, containing butler's pantry, kitchen, servants' quarters and storage.

The landmark campanile tower contained a large water tank, as well as a beacon to aid navigation. A few years before Carleton Villa, Architect William Henry Miller designed Cornell's renowned Uris Library, similarly with a landmark tower. Miller was the first student of architecture at Cornell University and was responsible for more than eighty buildings in the Ithaca area.


 

The entry is on the south side of the house. It was connected to the tower, located where the stone foundation appears at right, by a
bridge. Another bridge linked the corner tower to the service wing, enclosing a courtyard. The photograph is from Ian Coristine's book,
Water, Wind and Sky.

The original form of Carleton Villa, with its spectacular tower, appears on the cover of the book Fools' Paradise by Paul Malo. The post- card image shows one of the connecting bridges.

An expansive lawn extends from the villa to a retaining wall at shore, where steps descend to the large natural terrace of bedrock.


A segment of the broad view from the lawn, look towards Wolfe Island in the distance. The city of Kingston, Ontario, is beyond.
At the rear of the house, on South Bay, monumental stone walls form terraces overlooking the water.
South Bay Terrace

North Bay Beach

North Bay from channel

Southbay docs

Looking to ~ 300' of south bay frontage to right of boathouse

 

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West Facade Facing Lake Ontario

Post Card of the Villa postmarked 1914

Close-up from Post Card Post Marked 1906

Landmark of Islands to Go

Familiar Square Tower Opposite Cape Vincent to Fall Soon


Cape Vincent -- Carleton Villa, the palatial summer home on Carleton Island of the late W. O. Wyckoff, is to be razed. Its removal, said to be contemplated by the General Electric Company, owners of the 1,200-acre island, to eliminate tax assessments will take one of the widely known landmarks from the upper Thousand Islands. The square tower is plainly visible from this village and is the most noticeable feature of the island from the drive along the river, part of the Roosevelt scenic route.
Carleton Villa, as it was termed by its owner, the Wyckoff residence as it is known locally, is regarded as doubly associated with the history of the Lake of a Thousand Isles.
With Castle Rest and Graystone Villa, it formed the most pretentious of the earlier summer residences among the islands besides being the first of the palatial homes to be erected.

Owners Aided Sailors

A brilliant gaslight, long illuminated in the tower, became a range beacon for navigators passing down the American channel before the government protected the shoal off the head of the island by a light buoy.
Carleton Island held the first English residents on the upper St. Lawrence and the first English-speaking people in Jefferson County, in the garrison at Fort Haldimand and the naval station established there in 1778. Previously the island had been a temporary British depot, and for centuries a camping place for Indians bound through the river.
Apple trees, planted in 1778, and lilacs now of large proportions, contemporary with the British military post, are said to have been the first of their species in northern New York.

Villa at Head of Island

The villa stands at the head of the island, on the lower port[ion] known as Government point, the ruins of the fort occupying a higher elevation behind it. It is roughly rectangular, 102 by 73 feet, four stories, but it is so broken by bay windows, steep gabled roofs with dormer windows and a projecting tower at each corner that its outline appears irregular.
The tower is 16 feet square, 111 feet high and separate from the main building. It upholds a water tank carrying 200 barrels, supplied by pumps in the basement. An observatory surmounts the tower, connected to the residence by two bridges, each containing a room
The main hall of the home is 60 by 18 feet, two stories high, with for Corinthian columns in pairs, the room being surrounded by a gallery. The dining room is oval, 30 by 18 feet. One of the first gas plants in private residence in this part of the state lighted the place. It is said that the plant still is serviceable.

Lower Walls of Marble

The lower walls are of Gouverneur marble, the upper of cement. It was built in the early 90’s and was occupied each summer through its owner’s lifetime. Wyckoff of president of Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict Company of New York, associated with the Remington typewriter concern.
The Wyckoff mansion towered about a little village of summer cottages that now gives way to plans of the General Electric Company eventually to locate there its convention vacation resort, now maintained at Association Island in Henderson Bay.

Lowville, NY: Journal Republican, July 16, 1936