George Boldt

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For the U.S. federal judge, see George Hugo Boldt.
George Charles Boldt, Sr.
GeorgeCBoldt (cropped) LOC23338v.jpg
Born Georg Karl Boldt
(1851-04-25)April 25, 1851
Ribnitz-Damgarten, Germany
Died December 5, 1916(1916-12-05) (aged 65)
Manhattan, New York City
Spouse(s) Louise Augusta Kehrer
Children George Charles Boldt, Jr.
Clover Louise Boldt
Engraved 1916 letterhead of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel with vignettes of the hotel as well as those of the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels in New York all of which were then operating under the management of George Boldt.
Boldt also owned the Waldorf Astoria Segar Company

George Charles Boldt, Sr. (25 April 1851  – 5 December 1916) 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.[1]


He was born as Georg Karl Boldt in Ribnitz-Damgarten, Germany, on 25 April 1851.[2] He immigrated to the United States in 1864.[1] He began as a kitchen worker in New York and, at age 25, was hired (by his future father-in-law) to manage the dining room of Philadelphia's most exclusive gentlemen's club, The Philadelphia Club.

Boldt's first hotel was the Bellevue (1881), at the northwest corner of Broad & Walnut Streets, in Philadelphia. He soon bought a competing hotel, the Stratford, at the southwest 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.[3] 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 the maître d', Oscar Tschirky, to include it on the menu. The hotel introduced other popular food items, such as Waldorf Salad. Boldt also owned the Waldorf Astoria Segar Company, which imported fine Cuban cigars and was located at the hotel.[4]

He built 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, was restored after decades of vandalism and is now a major summer tourist attraction.

Towards the end of his life, he commissioned architect Francis T. Underhill to build him a Swiss-chalet-style mansion, "La Manzanita," in Montecito, Santa Barbara, California.[5] He died on 5 December 1916 in Manhattan, New York City.[1]


He briefly owned Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower property, receiving it as payment for a debt.

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 Charles Boldt, Jr. (1879–1958), and Clover Louise Boldt, later Mrs. Alfred Graham Miles (1883–1963).[6] He also had a granddaughter, Clover Boldt Baird (1910–1993), who lived in nearby Alexandria Bay.



Further reading[edit]

  • Malo, Paul. Boldt Castle: In Search of the Lost Story. Fulton, N.Y.: Laurentian Press, 2001.

External links[edit]