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Archaeology magazine Reports New York's Mysterious Castle On the Hudson is Focus of Preservation Efforts.

Business Editors

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 17, 2002

Manhattan-bound commuters pass it every morning, but few know the story behind the gloomy, castle-like ruins that tower over Pollepel Island, a forested, six-acre island in the Hudson River 50 miles north of New York City.

As Archaeology magazine reports in its January/February issue, the deteriorating Scottish-style castle is now the subject of vigorous preservation efforts.

The castle was the brainchild of arms merchant Francis Bannerman VI, in his time America's best-known weapons dealer. Bannerman began constructing the island's unique masonry buildings in 1901 as a summer home and place to house a growing collection of decommissioned army equipment.

Bannerman's imposing structure, with the words "Bannerman's Island Arsenal" emblazoned on the north wall, defies easy description. It is, in fact, a collection of buildings, each one unique. With no training in architecture or engineering and no professional assistance, the arms dealer essentially dreamed up the buildings on his own, from the arsenal to the icehouse. He sketched plans on hotel stationary and paper bags and then handed them over to masons, who interpreted them as best they could.

The island was the center of Bannerman's army war surplus empire, which had its roots in a business he set up while still a teenager selling military goods in Brooklyn. From those modest beginnings, Bannerman's business grew so large that he was able to buy 90 percent of the army equipment decommissioned after the Spanish-American war. The massive purchase forced Bannerman to look outside New York City for a place to store his goods. Pollepel Island was ideal.

With the Bannerman business long since dissolved, the castle, now owned by New York State, has fallen into a state of severe disrepair. Neglect over the years and a catastrophic fire in 1969 conspired to leave the arsenal in ruins.

"Bannerman's Island Arsenal is a one-of-a-kind collection of unique structures," says Neil Caplan, a theater director who in 1993 founded the Bannerman Island Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the castle. "With the support of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, we hope to restore the castle to its former grandeur for the enjoyment of the public."

For more than 50 years, Archaeology magazine has led the field, journeying to all corners of the earth to witness the rediscovery of ancient worlds. Published by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), Archaeology brings its 600,000 readers the last word on the long-gone. For more information or to receive press releases via e-mail, contact Eric Powell at (718) 472-3050 ext. 12 or eric@archaeology.org. Additional information is available at http://www.archaeology.org/.

Editor's Notes:

1) Photography is available upon request.

2) Trust founder Neil Caplan is available for interviews. Contact Eric Powell at (718) 472-3050 ext. 12 or eric@archaeology.org.
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Date:Dec 17, 2002
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