A hot real estate market and a desire for extreme privacy meant offers tumbled in quickly for Whiskey Island, which sits in the St. Lawrence River off the coast of Clayton, NY. The private island comes with a colorful history.
“It’s right on the [Canada] border. During Prohibition, it was a prime island for smuggling. That’s where it got its name,” explains listing agent Amanda Miller, who’s with Lake Ontario Realty. “It was just a part of that Prohibition smuggling era where they would come across from Canada and use the islands.”
The island with nearly 3 acres of land and multiple structures was listed for $1.99 million. Offers came within five days—even though potential buyers didn’t have access to the property. Winters in this part of the country are unforgiving and not normally conducive to a quick real estate sale.
“We thought we’d get a jump start on the market. What we didn’t anticipate was, we had a buyer that was just out there ready, willing, and able to make an offer immediately. [They were] familiar with the island and didn’t feel the need to try to get a viewing,” Miller says.
The island’s main home is a lodge with eight bedrooms and four baths. Dating to 1875, it is equipped with a commercial kitchen and an array of other amenities.
“Not only do you get to see the character of the island and imagine what it was like during Prohibition and when the island was used for other things, but you get to see it is very much intact, because most of the items have stayed in the lodge,” she says.
One crucial modern element the 4,884-square-foot lodge lacks is heating. It will need to be added if the buyer intends to use the home year-round. There’s also a newer two-bedroom cottage nearby.
The current owners have previously put Whiskey Island on the market.
“They just decided it was time it needed to go to a new owner that was going to be able to take care of it and enjoy it. We did a small price adjustment and the market was there,” Miller explains. “These types of properties just don’t do well shut down or shut up for years. They need to be loved. They need people there.”
Logistics aren’t going to be a huge hassle, as the furnishings are included in the sale. They feature a number of antiques.
“You don’t want to be moving furniture on and off an island because it’s a pain. So through the eras and ownership transfers, most of the furnishings have remained on the island,” Miller says. “It’s been very well-preserved, and there are a lot of items there that have been there for a long time.”
The island is accessible by boat, and Miller says most nearby island residents rent a boat slip at one of the local marinas.
The boathouse on Whiskey Island is new and can accommodate several vehicles.
What sets Whiskey Island apart from others in this island chain is its privacy, Miller says. “It’s one of the few islands that’s actually a decent size that you own the entire island and you’re not sharing it.”
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