George Charles Boldt (25 April 1851 – 5 December 1918) was a Prussian-born American hotelier. A self-made millionaire, he influenced the development of the urban hotel as a civic social center and luxury destination.
Born as Georg Karl Boldt in Bergen auf Rügen on the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea, he emigrated to the United States in 1864. He began as a kitchen worker in New York, and, at age 25, was hired (by his future father-in-law) to manage the diningroom of Philadelphia's most exclusive gentlemen's club, The Philadelphia Club.
Boldt's first hotel was the Bellevue (1881), at the NW corner of Broad & Walnut Streets, in Philadelphia. He soon bought a competing hotel, the Stratford, at the SW corner. Two decades later, on the site of the Stratford, he built the largest hotel the city had ever seen, the 1,090-room Bellevue-Stratford Hotel (1902–04, now the Park Hyatt).
The enormous fortunes generated by robber barons in the post-Civil War Era led to an unprecedented level of luxurious living for wealthy Americans. Boldt catered to this new super-rich class, charging the highest prices for the very best, and becoming one of them in the process.
William Waldorf Astor built the Waldorf Hotel (1890–93) in New York City, with Boldt as proprietor. John Jacob Astor IV built the adjoining Astoria Hotel (1897). Boldt mediated between the feuding millionaire cousins, leasing the Astoria himself, and merging the two buildings under his management as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The Empire State Building now occupies its site at 34th Street and 5th Avenue.
He is credited with popularizing Thousand Island dressing at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he instructed maître d', Oscar Tschirky, to include it on the menu. The hotel introduced other popular food items, such as Waldorf Salad.
He is well known for building Boldt Castle, on an island in the Thousand Islands area of New York State. The enormous castle was intended as a gift for his wife Louise Kehrer Boldt, but when she died suddenly in 1904, construction was halted. The castle near Alexandria Bay, which is still undergoing major restoration after decades of vandalism, is now a major summer tourist attraction.
He was a trustee of Cornell University, to which his daughter, Mrs. A. Graham Miles, donated a Collegiate-Gothic dormitory, Boldt Hall and Tower (1922–23).
From his marriage to Louise Augusta Kehrer, he had two children: George C. Boldt, Jr. (1879-1958), and Clover Louise Boldt, later Mrs. Alfred Graham Miles (1883-1963). He also had a granddaughter, Clover Boldt Baird (1910-1993), who lived in nearby Alexandria Bay.
George C. Boldt Monument, Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx, New York).
- Malo, Paul. Boldt Castle: In Search of the Lost Story. Fulton, N.Y.: Laurentian Press, 2001.
- People archive of the home country publishing company Heimat-Bild-Verlag
- New York Times obituary, December 6, 1916
- Waldorf-Astoria Hotel from New York Architectural Images.
- Robert Winter, Towards a Simpler Way of Life: The Arts and Crafts Architects of California (University of California Press, 1997)
- Biographies of family members from the Boldt Castle website
- Boldt Castle Official Site.
- Ian Coristine's Thousand Islands Castles & Grand Cottages Gallery
- Thousand Islands Life