Program for Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 7PM at New City Library
Genealogical Society of Rockland County
Topic: Bannerman Castle
Speaker: Barbara Gottlock co-author of Bannerman Castle.
On maps it is Pollopel Island: 6 3/4 acres of mostly rock; 1,000 feet from the eastern
shore of the Hudson just north of Cold Spring; 50 miles north of New York City. During the
Revolutionary War, patriots unsuccessfully tried to stop the British from advancing north
of the island by sinking 106 upright logs tipped in iron points in the Hudson. Later,
General George Washington approved plans to use the island as a military prison.
The castle's builder, Frank Bannerman VI, was a Scottish patriot, very proud of his
descent from one of the few MacDonald's to survive the massacre at Glencoe in 1692.
Acting on behalf of the Crown, a rival clan, the Campbells, slaughtered all MacDonald
males ages 12-70. One escaped to the hills with the clan banner -- and from that day on,
his family name was Bannerman.
The Bannerman family immigrated to the United States in 1854, when Frank was three, and
settled in Brooklyn. At the close of the Civil War, the U.S. government auctioned off
military goods by the ton, mostly to be scrapped for their metal. Young Frank was one of
the first to realize that much of what was being sold had a market value higher than
scrap. Under his guidance, Bannerman's became the world's largest buyer of surplus
military equipment. When they outgrew their store at 501 Broadway in NYC, they looked
around for a larger and safer location in which to store their ammunition. Pollopel
Island was selected.
Frank Bannerman personally designed the island's buildings, docks, turrets, garden
walls and moat in the style of old Scottish castles. Almost all of it was done without
professional help from architects, engineers and contractors. And all of it was
elaborately decorated, from biblical quotations cast into all fireplace mantles, to a
shield between the towers with a coat of arms, and a wreath of thistle leaves and flowers.
The castle was constructed between 1901 and 1918. It was primarily an ammunitions storage
site but the Bannermans summered there too.
Attend this interesting talk about a little known architectural wonder and learn about
the struggle to maintain its existence.
For more information, visit:
Barbara L. de Mare, Esq.
Historian, genealogist and attorney
155 Polifly Road
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
(201) 567-9440 office