Belcourt is a former summer cottage, designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, and located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. Begun in 1891 and completed in 1894, it was intended to be used for only six to eight weeks of the year. Designed in a multitude of European styles and periods, Belcourt features a heavy emphasis on French Renaissance and Gothic decor, with further borrowings from German, English and Italian design. In the Gilded Age, the castle was well noted for its extensive stables and carriage areas, which were incorporated into the main structure.
Belcourt as a Museum:
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. A visit to the castle included viewings of an English library (added in 1910 by John Russell Pope; the ceiling is a replica of the one in Haddon Hall's Long Gallery), a banquet hall, a chapel, two of three grand halls, a music room, an Empire-style dining room, a French gothic-style ballroom, two principal bedrooms, a loggia and a gallery. All of the rooms are furnished with pieces from the Tinney Family collections. The first tours of Belcourt were given in 1957 and ever since then the castle has been a fixture on Bellevue Avenue. The collections included furnishings, art and artifacts from 33 European and Oriental countries and 37 other Newport mansions. The Tinney Family's enormous collection earned Belcourt a notable status within Newport's thriving tourism industry. The castle also offered ghost tours and tours by candlelight on a regular basis. There have been numerous reports of paranormal activity in the castle, particularly in the ballroom on the second floor. The property was featured on an episode of the reality show Ghost Hunters.
Belcourt was also the only mansion in Newport which 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.