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Belcourt of Newport The Haunted Mansion

The Belcourt Mansion of Newport also known as the Belcourt Castle are legendary as are the many ghost stories that accompany buildings that have been around for so long. Located on Bellevue Avenue at Lakeview Avenue, Belcourt was designed by Richard Morris Hunt for 33-year-old Oliver Belmont. This mansion reflects a strong French Renaissance and Gothic influence. Several poltergeist activity phenomena recorded within this mansion.

The house stayed in the Belmont family until 1940, when it was sold to George Waterman who planned to turn the mansion into a car museum. After paying $1000 for Belcourt, he discovered it was not zoned for an antique automobile museum and sold it to Edward Dunn, who never lived in the house. Dunn rented out the stables for repairing military equipment during World War II.

Belcourt Mansion (Front view)
Image Credit: Wikipedia

In 1954, Elaine and Louis Lorillard bought Belcourt for $22,500, with plans to host the Newport Jazz Festival. The house did not last as a performance venue and was sold again in 1956 to the Tinney Family, who filled the mansion with their private collection of antiques.

One member of the family, Harle Tinney who married the Tinney's son feels the mansion is haunted. This activity appears to be connected to various items in the mansion. One day, Harle Tinney saw the ghost of monk dressed in brown--she feels this haunting originated from a carved monk statue the family owns. This ghost monk would only appear nearby this statue. When the statue was moved from its place near a staircase to another room the ghost then only manifested in this room. When the Tinney’s decided to place this statue in the chapel they feel it appeased this ghost for he stopped appearing.

In the late 1990’s Harle was headed to the castle’s kitchen when she noticed the stain glass lights were on in the gothic ballroom. As she walked over and turned them off she then heard a blood-curdling scream behind her. She quickly turned toward the kitchen but the lights turned back on and she heard a second even louder scream.

The Tinneys lived in the house for 56 years until 2012, when Harle Tinney sold Belcourt to Carolyn Rafaelian. Inspired by Alva’s determination, Carolyn is in the process of restoring the brilliant Belcourt of Newport to all of its former glory.

On November 12, 2012, Belcourt was purchased by Carolyn Rafaelian, owner of the Cranston, Rhode Island-based company Alex and Ani, for $3.6 million. Rafaelian is currently restoring and renovating the mansion, which she reopened in summer 2014 as a tour house, art gallery, and event space under the business name Belcourt of Newport. Rafaelian reports she has already spent $5 million on renovations, including $3 million for a new roof.

Belcourt was open to the public as a museum of antiquities and architectural and social history. Of the 60 rooms at Belcourt, over a dozen were viewable on tour.

In 1894 there are many different documented hauntings within this lavish home, but perhaps the most haunted objects in the castle are two chairs in the Grand Gothic Ballroom that reportedly have spirits attached to them. Visitors who sit in the chairs say they immediately feel cold, queasy and uncomfortable and many people have claimed that they've felt like they're sitting on someone when they attempt to sit in the chairs. Several visitors have actually been ejected from the chairs by an unseen force.

The Grand Gothic Ballroom
Image Credit: Rise Up Paranormal

On one occasion 70 visitors to the castle saw a “bolt of lightning shoot out of one of these chairs.”

A piano tuner working in the castle heard loud screaming coming from a Japanese suit of armor. This 17th century Samurai armor has a helmet that is cracked by what appears to be from a medieval weapon piercing it. It is speculated this Samurai experienced a painful death when a lance pierced his eye. Many visitors have claimed to see the face of a man inside this armor. He often screams as young girls stand nearby.

Belcourt was also the only mansion in Newport that was both open to the public and had a private owner in residence. Harle Tinney frequently guided tours through her home and was often present to greet visitors when she was in residence.


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