Real Haunted Houses

Real Haunted House

Belcourt Castle

Newport, Rhode Island
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

Belcourt Castle is a large Louis XIII style estate that hosts regular ghost tours and candlelight mystery tours–and with good reason. Belcourt Castle, the sixty-room summer cottage of Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, has a reputation for being one haunted destination that does not disappoint. Construction started on the estate in 1891 and continually employed three hundred skilled craftsmen for three full years.

Oliver intended to use Belcourt to display his collections of armor, medieval manuscripts, stained glass and numerous things related to his love of horses.

In 1895 the house was officially opened with a grand ball, its hostess was Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt, the wife of Oliver’s best friend and business partner. Perhaps her husband, William Kissam Vanderbilt, should have suspected something was amiss. Whether he suspected his best friend and his wife of any indiscretion or shared emotion is a bit of a mystery. Regardless, after having three children, Alva divorced William and married Oliver.

The two traveled extensively, collecting as they went, until Oliver died in 1908. The next year Alva redesigned the first floor of Belcourt. Some have speculated that Oliver would have disapproved because he loved the place exactly as it was. Alva’s attention then shifted and she became active in the women’s movement and a great supporter of the arts. Traveling frequently, Alva let Belcourt fall into a state of mild disrepair. She died in 1933.

Belcourt does not necessarily seem to be haunted by its owners or any members of the large staff that worked there for decades. Rather, it seems Belcourt is haunted because of some of the antiques in its collection. Furnished with art and trappings from more than 30 different countries, Belcourt has a lovely Gothic ballroom featuring haunted chairs. Some visitors have reported feeling chills race up and down their spine while standing near the chairs, others have reported strange sensations of energy moving across their hands. Supposedly if you try to sit in one of the haunted chairs you’ll feel resistance, while trying to take a seat in the other may just get you tossed out of it.

There is also a screaming suit of armor in the Gothic ballroom. The original owner of the armor was killed by a spear entering the visor’s eye slit. People claim the owner’s screams can still sometimes be heard around the time he died in March.

A carving of a monk is also supposedly haunted by its ghostly counterpart—so keep your eyes open. Cameras are not generally allowed in the castle, but a few people who sneaked photos (at risk of having their camera taken and being kicked out of the tour, so don’t do it) claim they have proof of orbs in several rooms.

Belcourt Castle is certainly worth a visit, many have said their guides were well-educated and that there is simply too much to see and learn about in a single visit. Whether you’re interested in the ghosts, the antiques, the history or the architecture, Belcourt seems to have something for everyone.

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Jason says:

October 4, 2008, 4:39 pm

Hey, yea that place is haunted. Check out my site at

Angela says:

October 21, 2008, 12:00 am

The only thing ghostly about this tourist trap is the feeling of being fleeced that will haunt you when you leave there. You’ll never hear about the investigations that were held there to that were about as eventful as watching grass grow…I wish I had before paying for one of their “ghost hunts” these people have. Hands down, the mansion is gorgeous and worth the visit in that respect, but if you’re looking for ghosts, sorry, no one’s home!

jesse says:

February 13, 2009, 2:20 pm

i am never going there agian in my life because last time i was there i passed out 2 times and i started bleeding from my nose for no reason so i am terrified of that place!!!!

alisa says:

February 14, 2009, 11:43 am

yeah im from rhode island and i went there and it was stupid! it definatly is not haunted. when i went it costed like 50 dollars a person and it wasnt worth it!it cost 200 dollars for me my mom my cousin and aunt to go!

Joseph says:

March 16, 2009, 12:49 pm

I have toured Belcourt Castle too many times to count. I have been visiting there since 1990′s. There are numerous ghosts that roam it’s halls. I have been told this by ghost hunters, paranormal people and by the owner. Belcourt is a must see.

Charles says:

March 17, 2009, 6:56 pm

Alisa’s “information” is completely exaggerated and incorrect. Belcourt Castle’s ghost tours cost $18/person. You can even see that on the website… Please get your “facts” straight before you call a place “stupid”.

Dina says:

March 30, 2009, 8:41 pm

There is a ghost hunting seminar and ghost hunt at Belcourt on May 23rd by Haunted Times Magazine. SHOULD BE EXCITING!

Matty says:

April 14, 2009, 2:56 pm

I have been to Belcourt Castle on many occassions as well. I can’t say if whether or not it’s truly haunted, but one thing is for sure and that is Belcourt Castle is rich with history,architecture,artifacts,and interesting stories. When touring Belcourt Castle one needs to keep that in mind, moreso, than ghosts.

Michelle says:

October 15, 2009, 8:55 am

Being from Rhode Island, I know of the Belcourt Castle. It truely is a beautiful place, and deffinately worth while. As for the ghosts, I believe true. The entities and spirits lingering in the antiques is something of wonder. I have been, and I have seen. I felt the presence. Take my word for it.

Nora says:

November 15, 2009, 7:50 pm

This past June my fiance and I were visiting Newport for the day. We happened to be driving by Belcourt Castle on Ocean Avenue and saw the sign for the Ghost Tour at 5 pm. The decision to go was one we will never regret or forget. WHAT a beautiful, historic, enchanting place. Although the grounds and some of the outer parts of the home are in disrepair, what a wonderful honor to have Mrs. Tinney herself leading parts of the tour through the unique and rich rooms of the house/castle. And for one who never has really “believed” in hauntings or spirits etc., I actually had a “scentual” experience there…not to be explained away by some practical wisdom so far that I can tell. During the tour Mrs. Tinney was explaining how she has been told over the years that “ghosts” can make themselves known by smells…but just two distinct smells: either a very very sweet smell or a very foul smell – nothing in between. I had two experiences of a very sweet (sweeter than lilacs is the only way I can describe it) smell…once in Mrs. Tinney’s bedroom and once in the courtyard out front where there are no flowers or blooming plants what-so-ever in the vicinity. The second time it felt literally like the smell was being breathed in to my nostrils, no kidding. Not scary at all, just puzzling. Anyway, it is definately worth the $18.00 admission price (they could charge more in my opinion). And good luck to Mrs. Tinney as she tries to maintain this beautiful historical relic.

sha,nana willson says:

December 27, 2009, 2:29 pm

that is so not scary k make it scary.

Don P says:

January 27, 2010, 3:50 pm

My friend had his daughters wedding reception at the Belcourt … nothing scary about the place …. very nice setting for a wedding !

Beth says:

March 11, 2010, 5:20 pm

that sounds like a fun place to go….id love to go there…

karlyyyy says:

April 25, 2010, 2:42 pm

i went here with my school. it felt mostly just sad. but creepy. we were there at night and we ran to our cars afterward…must go, must c, must feel

Barbara Foster says:

June 28, 2010, 7:21 pm

I worked at Belcourt Castle in the 80′s as a tourguide, worked there for a few years, I cannot say if it was haunted or not, I never saw anything related to the supernatural, I wish I could have if it were true.

Julie says:

October 23, 2010, 11:05 am

For those of you who aren’t sure if Belcourt Castle is haunted, please check out the link You may be quite surprised what has been captured with video and audio

Dillon says:

February 3, 2011, 4:12 pm

i am truely excited to see this place i want to figure out how long the visit is and if any one thought it was an utter rip off or a completly worthful trip

Marty says:

May 24, 2011, 12:35 pm

I have Visited ( and Investigated ) Belcourt several times. It is a beautiful location rich in history, and YES there is Paranormal Activity in the Castle!!

Damon Baldi says:

July 24, 2011, 4:21 pm

I was Lucky Enough to Take The Tour on July 22nd 2011 and Had a Wonderful time .. My only Gripe was with the Big Baby Huey Guy who kept Flagging For attention By asking to play the Piano’s what an idiot.

Peter says:

November 13, 2011, 11:16 pm

The only ghost I saw was that of my hard earned money. First of all, I don’t believe in any of this paranormal stuff. I thought ghost hunting was going to be some fun Halloween style activity. My wife even asked on the phone if it was not too scary for a 7 and a 3 year old. The guy said: no, they will have fun. Never on their website they mention that it is for 8 an up. Even when we arrived they didn’t say anything about the little kids – they clearly met them so they were aware, they should have advised us instead of just greedily taking our money. Well, it was not scary, but it was clearly not for little kids to spend 90 minutes to listen to a delusional old lady (or clever scam artist) telling boring, long, almost identical stories about ghosts she saw. When about 10 minutes into the tour they told my wife – rudely – that she should silence the kids because their talking disturbed the tour guide, she left. Of course no refund was available… My older son and I stayed, and we still have fun recalling the idiotic stories this old hustler made up. They are only out for money and they are dishonest. Avoid this place like the plague.

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