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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: THE GHOSTS OF BELCOURT CASTLE

Thursday, October 7, 2010

THE GHOSTS OF BELCOURT CASTLE

Belcourt Castle
   One of Newport, Rhode Island's most exquisite landmarks is the French Renaissance-style  chateau known to locals as the Belcourt Castle.  Many believe it to be the location of paranormal phenomena and events that involve haunted chairs, ghostly armor, apparitions, a statue that has been declared as possessed, and a haunted mirror that is truly baffling as you cannot see your reflection, only moving images that shift back and forth.
  Belcourt Castle is not for the faint of heart as sightings are normal occurrence when visitors take the candlelight or the more favored haunted tour through the darkest corners of the property, especially the spooky Gothic Ballroom. Known as the hot spot for apparitions, visitors love seeing the vast collection of antiquities and the occasional spirit that lights up the room.

Belcourt Ballroom

     The Castle was built for the wealthy bachelor, Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, who inherited a fortune from his father August Belmont.  Belcourt Castle was embellished with horses and armor, which was a direct reflection for his love of medieval and renaissance architecture.  Oliver Belmont hired 30 servants at $100 dollars per week to take care of the 60 room, 50.000 square foot estate and the grounds that displayed mythological sculptural pieces from nymphs and cherubs made from bronze, terra cotta, marble and stone.
   In 1896 Oliver Belmont married socialite Alva Vanderbilt, wife of his best friend and business partner.  Alva Smith, daughter of an Alabama cotton merchant, was educated in France, and married to William Kissam Vanderbilt.  The couple had three children before she divorced Vanderbilt in 1895 to marry Oliver Belmont.


  



Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont





















 The couple traveled extensively until Oliver's death in 1908.  Alva then designed a grand mausoleum for her husband in his favorite Gothic style that stands out in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.  Against her better judgement, the following year Alva redesigned the entire first floor of Belcourt Castle.  Many people felt that Oliver would not have approved this drastic renovation as he loved his castle in its entirety just the way he had left it.


   Oliver Belmont Mausoleum
   Alva grew bored with her life at the castle, and Belcourt soon fell into disrepair as Alva traveled to New York, France, and anywhere else that her heart desired.  After her death in 1933, Oliver's brother Perry sold the castle in 1940 to entrepreneur George Waterman who envisioned Belcourt as an auto museum.  Jazz festivals were held at the estate regularly, the new owners never did anything to the castle and it fell even further into disrepair for about 2 decades.  In 1956 Belcourt was purchased by another family for 25,000 dollars and they began restoring the castle to it original grace and beauty.
      They later started tours of the castle once it was ready for the public beginning in 1957.  The 60 room museum is filled with mystery, intrigue, spirits, and furnishing from 33 European and Oriental countries.  The Gothic ball room is the prize of the castle with haunted chairs that give you chills running up and down your spine. Armor belonging to a man that died when a spear went through the eye and out the other end can be viewed during the tour, and many claim that he can be heard screaming in and around March, the approximate time of his death.  

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely beautiful location(s) Thanks for sharing this, it was facinating.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete