Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Once popular boathouse now collapsing into St. Lawrence River

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Once popular boathouse now collapsing into St. Lawrence River
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It was once a very popular spot in the Thousand Islands, but over the years, it's been neglected and now a well-known boathouse is collapsing into the St. Lawrence River in Alexandria Bay. Our Brian Dwyer has story of the boathouse's better days.

ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. -- "We were having a few drinks and we got down there to get a few more and we got in my boat. The clutch went out. So we backed all the way from Ina Island all the way back to Alexandria Bay. We couldn't get it in forward,” Alexandria Bay resident George Burtch said.

Burtch's is just one of many stories people have from their time spent on Ina Island. The spot, a massive home and grand boathouse. A place people would come from all over to have some fun.

"It was built back when the millionaires were building their homes on the river,” Town of Alexandria Historian Greta Slate said.

"There were a lot of people from New York City, fairly well do to people and they fed them and wined and dined them and they stayed for a period of days or maybe a week. I assume some stayed longer,” Burtch added.

The island would later be sold and the main house became a very exclusive hotel, but the boathouse, which had previously been used as a dance hall has a story all its own.

"There was a basketball court in there,” Alexandria Bay resident John Russell added. "Off of the basketball court was private rooms. There were accommodations there for the staff and in the later years, when they were running as a hotel, they'd also rent these rooms."

A short time after World War II, the island was sold again and it became a very popular night club.

"It was a place you could go, like 12 o'clock you could go have a drink or something. I can remember when I was younger going down there and you could stay as long as you wanted to,” Russell said.

But pictures from the website, tell a whole different story. The story of a once great place, now in ruins. The boathouse ignored for decades, now collapsing into the St. Lawrence River.

"It's a definite shame to see it the way it is. There are people that are trying to help keep the river clean and when that apparently is going to go into the river it's not going to be nice,” Slate added.

The listed owner of the island, a Harold Fulmer, passed away in 2009. A message left for his family has not been returned.

Town officials say there is not much they can do. The boathouse is privately owned again and it's not a livable place that can be condemned. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP