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Newport, RI’s Historic Belcourt Castles Sells for $3M to Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani (PHOTOS)

Newport, RI’s Historic Belcourt Castles Sells for $3M to Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani (PHOTOS)

Newport, RI’s Historic Belcourt Castles Sells for $3M to Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani (PHOTOS)
January 12
16:22 2011

Newport, RI’s Historic Belcourt Castles Sells for $3M to Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani

659 Bellevue, Newport, Rhode Island, United States, 02840

Belcourt Castle is a historic site listed on the National Register in Newport Rhode Island’s most prestigious historic district.  Within a thousand feet of the Atlantic Ocean this masterpiece of architecture by nineteenth century architect Richard Morris Hunt is constructed of the finest Westerly granite, ornamented with brick and rough-cast based on the original Louis XIII hunting lodge at Versailles, France. Three hundred skilled artisans constructed the building over a three year period at a cost of some three million dollars.  As the residence of Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (1894-1908) the castle boasted a stable for 30 horses and a carriage room for 18 coaches.  After Belmont’s death his famous wife, Alva, divorced from William K. Vanderbilt in 1895, commissioned changes to the interiors which converted the carriage room to a banquet hall and added an adjacent kitchen staffed with 7 chefs.  The architect John Russell Pope worked with Mrs. Belmont by making continual changes to the grand stair.

Upon entering the castle one immediately senses the old world atmosphere in the center courtyard.  This half-timbered paved area has been used for parties and concerts during the summers of lavish entertaining.  Massive French doors lead one from the courtyard to the solarium, the library, the grand halls and staircase.  The ceilings are about fifteen feet high and have decorative wooden beams of chestnut.  In the style of the French renaissance with 365 oak balusters all carved by hand and finished with the craftsmen’s chisel marks, the grand staircase rises to the third floor.  Many details of carving have symbolism of French royalty, and the Imperial Japanese coat-of-arms. Belmont’s private apartment of 20,000 square feet on the second level includes an oval dining room loosely based on the design of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, with indirect lighting originally by Thomas Edison.  After dinner guests were entertained in the Renaissance room adjacent which boasts a carved mantel, and incredible wood paneling.  The ceiling is original with gold leaf and hand oil-painted decorations.  The original silk damask has been repaired, but remains.

The gothic ballroom has a 35 foot ceiling and an organ loft, musician’s balcony and a castle fireplace which reminds one of the 13th century castles. it is populated with medieval characters peering from the battlements.  The stained glass in Belcourt Castle is the finest collection of original 13th century glass in America.  The subjects are scenes from French court life and have poetic verses describing the scenes.  A major feature of the castle, the stained glass is a most valuable asset in its own right.

Price: $5,100,000 $3,900,000 $4,000,000 SOLD
Size: 50,000 Sq. Ft. Approx.
Bedrooms: 10
Bathrooms: 7
Speciality Items: Finished in 1894, took 3 years to build, Originally Designed for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, Used as a Summer Cottage, Originally cost $3,000,000 to build in the early 1890’s, Sold to the Tinney’s in 1956 for $25,000, Serving as a Museum & Home for the current owners.
Address: 659 Bellevue, Newport, Rhode Island, United States, 02840

Pricing History

1894 – Cost $3 Million (Estimated to be $65 Million in 2005) to Build, Owned by Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont
1940 – Sold to George Waterman for $1,000
1943 – Sold to Edward Dunn for an unknown amount, he never lived in the Castle
1954 – Sold to Louis Lorillard for $22,500, used the property for the Newport Jazz Festival
1956 – Sold to The Tinney Family for $25,000
1960’s1980’s – The Tinney Family Restored & Renovated Belcourt Castle
1983 – Belcourt Castle was burglarized, many artifacts were recovered.
2006 – Harle Tinney’s Husband Passes Away.
2009 – Harle Tinney lists Belcourt Castle for $7.2 Million
2011 – Belcourt Castle was Offered at $5.1 Million before being reduced to $3.9 Million
2011 – Belcourt Castle is now listed at $4 Million
2012 – SOLD for $3 million+ to Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani

Sunrise in the master bedroom is brilliant as the grisailles windows with medieval patterns in gold throw the designs throughout the room.  The walls and ceiling are the original hand oil paintings in the manner of William Hunt, brother of the architect.  Adjacent is the master bathroom with original marble and hand-crafted porcelain fixtures.  The Louis XV paneled bedroom is reminiscent of Versailles, as Alva Vanderbilt Belmont fancied the eighteenth century French styles.  The adjoining bath is sunken down six steps and overlooks the east gardens.  An original marble sink and porcelain bath tub remain.

To access the third story one may ascend the grand stair or a beautifully constructed spiral stair with oak steamed and bent.  Atop the circular stair were original staff rooms which have been used as family living quarters.  Views from the oval dormers encompass the entire area around including spectacular views of the ocean and many neighboring estates. The new owners of Belcourt Castle should love adventure and dare to be different. Such a variety of architecture is rarely seen in any structure under one roof.  The castle exists in a fairy tale world, secure and peaceful surrounded by beauty which defies description.  There have been important guests from everywhere in Belcourt’s 115-year history.  There is a magic in its walls that envelops those who visit, who live in the building and who experience the spirit which the house possesses.  The entire west and south wings comprise ten completely restored living rooms with all the modern amenities and up to date utilities.  Ten-foot ceilings in the large spaces with creativity and imagination may have a variety of purposes including bedrooms, offices, dining rooms, guest suites. With nearly 3500 square feet this updated area is ready to move in.

The former stable which is 150 feet by 22 feet with a 12 foot ceiling is unrestored. It has the orignial tile walls, hand made bricks and floor drains.  Belcourt has two basement areas and a ninety-foot tunnel underground.  On the land adjacent are the foundations of an old mushroom cellar and the two hundred foot Seaverge greenhouse, which could be rebuilt.  This property was formerly owned by Elbridge Gerry and part of “Seaverge”, the home of the late Mrs. Peyton Van Renssalaer, Princess Pignatelli, and Edward V. Hartford.  The land could be used for a swimming pool and/tennis courts as well as gardens, which was its original purpose.

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