After you’ve survived sinking to the bottom of the St. Lawrence River, not to mention receiving tens of thousands of visitors, you deserve to celebrate a little. So in August the Antique Boat Museum(ABM) in Clayton, N.Y., held a 110th birthday party for its top attraction, the 106-foot-long houseboat La Duchesse. Local residents, volunteers, staff, and family members of the boat’s former owners gathered on board to toast her enduring appeal.
La Duchesse began her life in 1903 as a package of carefully wrought pieces sent from a warehouse in Long Island City, N.Y. Well-known hotelier George Boldt had her assembled at his estate in northern New York’s Thousand Islands. He hosted countless family and friends on board the mahogany-paneled, fully furnished vessel.
Boldt owned the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia and also managed the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. His detail-oriented approach to running hotels also applied to his treatment of La Duchesse, with its meticulously maintained fir decking, stained glass windows displaying the Boldt family crest, and decorative molding.
“He cut no corners, and you can see that in his houseboat,” says ABM’s former director of public programming Lora Nadolski.