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Perch Island

Written by on July 26, 2017 in Island Life Magazine, The Thousand Islands

Welcome to one of the most unusual addresses in the 1000 Islands: Buoy 160.

Perch Island is actually known as Peach Island on the nautical chart. Photo by Kim Lunman

It goes without saying the only way to get to this place on Perch Island is by boat. But what’s most remarkable about this little American Island is that it was little more than a shoal over four decades ago. That’s when Irving Weatherup bought it from his aunt for one dollar in 1970.

Stuart Weatherup, left, son of the late Irving Weatherup, and friend Fred Funck, greet visitors at the island’s dock east of Blind Bay N.Y.

He wanted to build a stone cottage on the St. Lawrence River one rock at a time. Irving’s ‘castle’ is a stone cottage and boathouse built on a 120-by-40-foot granite shoal that stands just off the shores of Oak Point near Hammond.

Irving Weatherup spent many summers building his stone summer cottage after buying Perch Island for $1 in 1970. Photo by Kim Lunman

“It was his dream,” his son Stuart Weatherup told me during a visit to Perch Island last summer. “Everyone thought he was nuts,” he said. “But after the first summer of building, it looked like he was on to something. By 1972, it was really moving along.”

It is known as Peach Island on the nautical charts and is located across from historic Crossover Island and is just downriver from Singer Castle on Dark Island in Chippewa Bay. The Weatherups renamed their unique summer estate Perch Island. “We did a lot of fishing up here,” said Stuart.

A stone path leads to a tree adorned with wind chimes on the isle’s eastern shores. Photo by Kim Lunman

Irving or ‘Irv’ as he was known, grew up in Oak Point and had a life-long love of the River. His family had purchased property in the area including neighbouring several islands in 1908 including this one. He worked for Hertz Car Rental Corporation and lived in Camillus N.Y. near Syracuse. He and his wife Mary visited Perch Island with their four children and grandchildren until he passed away in 2006 at the age of 86.

Diving goggles amid granite rocks are fashioned in to folk art on Perch Island. Photo by Kim Lunman

Perch Island is a remarkable piece of island architecture with whimsical pieces of folk art embedded in the stone along pathways, incorporating everything from swimming goggles, fishing lures, water skis, boat propellers and golf balls. The main cabin includes a kitchen, living room and fireplace.

Photo by Kim Lunman

The cottage has a few bedrooms including one over the stone boathouse and boasts an outdoor stone shower and bathroom. There’s a propane refrigerator and water tower.

Photo by Kim Lunman

Perch Island even made newspaper headlines in New York and in Mary’s native Texas. Irving’s sister-in-law Judy Scheibel wrote about the island in a 1986 issue of the Gavelston Daily News, calling his project ‘A Gentleman’s Dream.’

“The amazing features of the little house and the hilarious stories that developed during its building would fill a book,” she wrote. Irving even joked to a Syracuse newspaper reporter that his cottage was the third castle in the 1000 Islands, next to Singer Castle and Boldt Castle on Heart Island.

Buoy 160: Also known as Irving’s Castle in the 1000 Islands. Photo by Kim Lunman

 

Irving’s dream lives on every summer at Perch Island as his children and grandchildren continue to enjoy visiting Irving’s castle at Buoy 160.

 

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