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.