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Belcourt Castle: Rhode Island’s Haunted Mansion with Ghostly Knights


Imagine a sprawling mansion, perched on a cliff overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. This is Belcourt Castle, a majestic Gilded Age estate in Newport, Rhode Island. More than just a stunning architectural masterpiece, Belcourt is shrouded in a veil of mystery and whispers of paranormal activity. For decades, visitors and staff have reported strange occurrences, fueling rumors of ghostly residents lurking within its grand halls.

This blog post delves into the captivating history and alleged hauntings of Belcourt Castle, exploring the lives of its former inhabitants, the eerie legends that cling to its walls, and the fascinating accounts of spectral sightings. Join us on a journey through time to uncover the secrets hidden within this Rhode Island landmark.

Table of Contents

History of Belcourt Castle

Belcourt Castle is a testament to the opulent lifestyle of the Gilded Age, a period of unprecedented economic growth and extravagant living in late 19th century America. The castle stands as a monument to one of the era’s most influential families – the Vanderbilts.

The Vanderbilt Family

The Vanderbilts rose to prominence in the 19th century, amassing a fortune through shipping, railroads, and various industries. Their name became synonymous with wealth and power, leaving an indelible mark on American history.

William Kissam Vanderbilt II

The man responsible for Belcourt Castle was William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the patriarch of the family. William inherited a significant portion of the family fortune and used it to pursue his passions, including a love for luxurious living and elaborate architecture.

Construction and Design

In 1894, William commissioned the construction of Belcourt Castle, a sprawling mansion designed in the French Renaissance style. The castle boasts intricate details, grand staircases, and a wealth of ornate decorations. The design was entrusted to renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt, known for his work on other prominent Gilded Age mansions in Newport, including The Breakers and Marble House.

The Castle’s Purpose

William envisioned Belcourt as a luxurious retreat and a symbol of his wealth and status. The castle was intended to be a place for entertaining guests, hosting grand parties, and showcasing the Vanderbilt family’s lavish lifestyle.

Later Years

After William’s death in 1944, Belcourt passed through various owners. It experienced periods of neglect and decline, falling into disrepair and fading from its former glory. However, in recent years, the castle has undergone restoration efforts, preserving its historical significance and reopening its doors to the public.

Ghostly Residents of Belcourt Castle

While Belcourt Castle’s history is rich and fascinating, it’s the tales of its ghostly residents that have captured the imagination of visitors and paranormal enthusiasts alike. Over the years, numerous accounts of spectral sightings and unexplained occurrences have fueled rumors of a haunting presence within the castle walls.

The Lady in White

Perhaps the most famous legend associated with Belcourt is that of the “Lady in White,” a ghostly figure said to roam the halls of the castle. Some believe the Lady in White is the spirit of Alva Vanderbilt, William’s mother, who was known for her elegant fashion sense and regal presence.

Others speculate she might be the ghost of a former servant or a woman who met a tragic end within the castle walls. Despite the uncertainty surrounding her identity, the Lady in White’s presence is said to be felt by many who have visited Belcourt, creating a chilling atmosphere of mystery.

Ghostly Knights

Another recurring apparition at Belcourt is that of ghostly knights, rumored to patrol the castle grounds and roam the grand staircases. Their origins remain a mystery, but some believe they are the spirits of former guests or members of the Vanderbilt family, their presence a haunting reminder of the castle’s rich history and the lives once lived within its walls.

Other Hauntings

Beyond the Lady in White and the ghostly knights, there are numerous accounts of other paranormal activity at Belcourt. Visitors have reported feeling cold spots, hearing unexplained sounds, and witnessing objects move on their own. Some have even claimed to see shadowy figures or feel an oppressive presence lurking in the shadows.

Visiting Belcourt Castle

Today, Belcourt Castle is open to the public, offering a glimpse into the opulence of the Gilded Age and the intriguing history that surrounds it. The castle is a popular destination for tourists, history buffs, and paranormal enthusiasts alike, offering various tours and events that cater to diverse interests.

Current Ownership

Belcourt Castle is currently owned and managed by the Belcourt Castle Preservation Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the castle’s architectural integrity and sharing its history with the public.

Available Tours

Several tours are available at Belcourt Castle, providing different perspectives on the castle’s history and its haunting reputation.

  • The Grand Tour: This tour takes visitors through the castle’s grand rooms, showcasing its architectural details, opulent furnishings, and historical significance.

  • The Ghost Tour: For those seeking a more eerie experience, the Ghost Tour delves into the castle’s paranormal history, sharing accounts of ghostly sightings and unexplained occurrences reported by visitors and staff.

  • The Self-Guided Tour: Visitors can explore the castle at their own pace, using a self-guided audio tour or brochure to learn about the castle’s history and notable features.

Special Events

Throughout the year, Belcourt Castle hosts various special events, including concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, and seasonal festivities. These events offer a unique opportunity to experience the castle in a different setting, immersing visitors in the castle’s atmosphere and rich history.

Accommodation and Dining

Newport offers a wide range of accommodation options, from charming bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels, catering to every budget and preference. The city also boasts a vibrant culinary scene, featuring restaurants that serve everything from fresh seafood to international cuisine.

Getting There

Belcourt Castle is located at 650 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s easily accessible by car or public transportation, with direct access from major highways and a nearby train station. The castle is also within walking distance of the city center, offering easy access to restaurants, shops, and other attractions.

FAQ Section

Here are answers to some common questions about Belcourt Castle:

  • Q: Is Belcourt Castle really haunted?
    A: While there is no scientific proof of a haunting, numerous reports of paranormal activity, coupled with the castle’s rich history and eerie legends, have fueled the belief that Belcourt Castle is indeed haunted. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the stories surrounding Belcourt Castle create a fascinating and intriguing atmosphere for visitors.

  • Q: How can I book a tour of Belcourt Castle?
    A: Tours of Belcourt Castle can be booked online through the official Belcourt Castle Preservation Foundation website or by contacting the castle directly. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the castle’s entrance.

  • Q: What are the tour costs?
    A: Tour costs vary depending on the chosen tour option. The Grand Tour typically costs around $25 per person, while the Ghost Tour is slightly more expensive, ranging from $30 to $40 per person. Self-guided tours are usually included with admission to the castle.

  • Q: When is Belcourt Castle open?
    A: Belcourt Castle is generally open to the public year-round, but hours of operation vary depending on the season. It’s always recommended to check the official website for the most up-to-date information on opening hours and availability.

  • Q: Are there any specific ghost tours at Belcourt Castle?
    A: Belcourt Castle does offer a dedicated Ghost Tour that focuses on the castle’s paranormal history, sharing stories of ghostly sightings and unexplained occurrences. This tour is ideal for those interested in the supernatural and exploring the castle’s darker side.


Belcourt Castle stands as a captivating example of Gilded Age opulence and a testament to the legacy of the Vanderbilt family. Beyond its architectural grandeur and historical significance, it’s the legends of ghostly residents and unexplained occurrences that have made Belcourt Castle a source of fascination for decades.

Whether you believe in the supernatural or simply appreciate the allure of historical mysteries, a visit to Belcourt Castle is a journey into a world of opulence, history, and the lingering whispers of the past. The castle’s haunting atmosphere and intriguing tales offer a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who ventures within its walls.