Discover 6 Enchanting Castles Nestled in Rhode Island

Belcourt's east façade, facing Bellevue Avenue
© Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 4.0

Written by Kellianne Matthews

Updated: September 5, 2023

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Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the U.S., but don’t let its size fool you! It is packed with a unique history and charm, especially when it comes to spectacular architecture. From towering turrets to sprawling mansion estates, Rhode Island is home to some of the most outstanding castles in the country. Whether you’re a history buff, love grand architecture, or simply looking to discover a new and charming abode, these six enchanting castles in Rhode Island are sure to leave you spellbound!

1. Dunmere

The story of Dunmere begins back in the year 1883 when John M. Merrick designed and constructed this vast estate. It was commissioned by Robert G. Dun, an influential figure in the business world, and served as his summer residence up until he passed away. Encompassing an impressive 13 acres of land, this majestic estate boasts 500 feet of ocean frontage. In addition to its impressive building structures, Dunmere also has many beautiful outdoor features like a mosaic swimming pool, vast gardens, and a man-made pond located on the waterfront. 

Originally Dunmere consisted of a three-and-a-half story Queen Anne style mansion, with a billiard room, sprawling greenhouse complex, and bowling alley, along with numerous other beautiful structures. Unfortunately, much of the estate was destroyed in a fire in April 1929, leaving behind the gardens, gate, and Gardener’s Cottage. Today, the estate’s unique entrance sits right along the ocean shore. It is like walking into a fairytale, with a stone masonry arch, striking turret, and wrought iron gate. And of course, there is nothing quite like the enchanting Gardener’s Cottage castle, with its stone masonry and Romanesque and Queen Anne features.

Dunmere is private property, so there are no tours available, although you can take pictures outside the gate. 

Dunmere Castle Estate in Rhode Island

Dunmere Castle is right along the coast, with stunning seaside views of the ocean.

©JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D. / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Wildlife Around Dunmere

Dunmere is located right along the coast of Rhode Island in Narragansett. During the years he lived in the castle, Dun used to bass fish near the water’s edge on his estate. Today, many people come to fish in this area, seeking out black seabass, fluke, cod, bonito, stripers, tautog, and bluefish. Along the shores, you will see many migratory birds in the spring and fall, including bald eagles, ospreys, and different types of shorebirds. In the calm waters of the bay, you’ll find seasonal visitors like grey seals, harbor seals, and harp seals. Meanwhile, dolphins and harbor porpoises can sometimes be spotted darting in and out of the waves. 

2. Hazard Castle

Rising above the trees with its medieval European fort design, Hazard Castle sits on 38 sprawling acres of land in Narragansett, Rhode Island. It was built in 1843 as the main house for Joseph Peace Hazard’s Seaside Farm. Hazard was a visionary force in the development of Ocean Road, as well as many luxurious oceanfront properties — Hazard’s Seaside Farm was just one small corner of his vast empire. 

Hazard had the castle crafted in the image of an English Abby he had visited during his travels to Europe. Among the castle’s many unique features is a grand, 105-foot-tall tower, which he added to the building in 1884. One of Hazard’s true passions was the realm of mystical metaphysics. The new tower served as a platform for him to communicate with otherworldly spirits. In 1951, the Hazard family sold the castle to the Providence Catholic Diocese. Today, it is the home of the Middlebridge School for children with learning disabilities. You can check out the castle through an online virtual tour. 

Wildlife Around Hazard Castle

Narragansett, Rhode Island, is a coastal area where you can spot many types of marine animals, like dolphins and seals. And if you venture further into the ocean, there are inspiring marine mammals like humpback, North Atlantic right, minke, sperm, and fin whales.

Within the depths of Narragansett Bay live all types of fascinating creatures, from lobsters and octopuses to anemones, crabs, mussels, sea urchins, and sea stars. Many types of birds can be seen along the coast as well, like plovers, sandpipers, geese, ducks, herons, egrets, raptors, and songbirds.

3. Belcourt Castle

The masterpiece of Belcourt Castle was designed by the renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt and was built for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont in 1894. Belcourt was designed to only be used for six to eight weeks of the year, mostly as a summer bachelor pad for Belmont. However, two years after it was completed, Belmont gifted the castle to his second wife, Alva Vanderbilt.

This beautiful summer villa spans an impressive 50,000 square feet with an astounding 60 rooms, each one more stunning than the last. It uses unique designs borrowed from a multitude of European styles and different periods, creating an eccentric visual feast for the senses. One of the main Inspirations behind the stunning castle was Louis XIII’s hunting lodge at Versailles, another structure that oozes grandeur and extravagance. 

The structure also has many design features from the French Renaissance and Gothic decor. It also uses influences from English, German, and Italian design. Belmont also incorporated his own love of pageantry, history, and horses into the salon, interior halls, and ballrooms in Belcourt Castle. Today, you can visit the museum at Belcourt and take a guided tour — including a seasonal ghost tour!

Belcourt's east façade, facing Bellevue Avenue

Belcourt’s east façade faces Bellevue Avenue.

©Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Wildlife Around Belcourt Castle

Newport, Rhode Island, is a popular hub for anglers, especially for black fishing. These bottom-feeding fish, locally known as tautog, swim inshore during the spring until the end of fall. Striped bass are another popular migratory game fish found off Newport. Summer flounders, black sea bass, bluefish, and scup are also popular. On land, you can spot New England cottontails and deer, as well as the occasional fox. There is an endless variety of beautiful birds in Newport as well, like the double-crested cormorant, red-necked phalarope, white-winged scoter, spotted towhee, prothonotary warbler, and brown pelican.

4. Seaview Terrace (Carey Mansion)

Also located in Newport, Rhode Island, is the Seaview Terrace, or Carey Mansion. However, the history of this enchanting castle in Rhode Island actually starts in an entirely different state! Originally, Edson Bradley, a tycoon in the whiskey industry, imported rooms from France to erect a stunning French Gothic estate on the southern edge of Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. This incredibly grand estate sprawled across more than half a city block. It had its own art gallery, a sprawling ballroom, and a Gothic chapel, as well as a theater with 500 seats. 

However, in 1923, Bradley decided to dismantle his beloved D.C. mansion and move the entire structure to a gorgeous Newport property in Rhode Island. However, an 1885 Elizabethan Revival mansion already stood on the new property. So, Bradley decided to blend the two structures together into one breathtaking masterpiece.

The fifteenth-century chateau-style castle was finished in 1925. It had its own whispering gallery, an early Renaissance stained-glass window, and 54 rooms spread across three levels. Experts believe that this gargantuan undertaking may have been one of the largest building relocations of its kind in history. Today, Seaview Terrace is a private estate, so you can’t visit or tour it. 

Seaview Terrace Newport RI.

Some of the rooms inside Seaview Terrace were originally built in France.

©Paulhaberstroh / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Wildlife Around Seaview Terrace (Carey Mansion)

Located along the coast of Newport, Seaview Terrace certainly lives up to its name. This enchanting castle in Rhode Island provides beautiful vistas of the ocean’s waters, where you can see many types of marine animals like harbor seals. There are over 300 different species of birds in the surrounding areas, including song sparrows, American crows, egrets, peregrine falcons, and vireos. Many people enjoy fishing in this area as well, due to the abundance of sea bass, cod, striped bass, blackfish, and fluke.

5. Cranston Street Armory

Master builder Michael J. Houlihan, along with the architectural visionary firm William R. Walker & Son, brought the stunning Cranston Street Armory to life in 1907. This iconic building has a massive steel truss frame and an astounding 165,000 feet of space. Just the castle’s central hall is as wide as two whole football fields! The Cranston Street Armory is easily recognizable with its two towering spires, crenulated turrets, ornate stonework, and signature yellow bricks. 

For nearly 90 years, the Rhode Island National Guard called this architectural masterpiece home. After World War I, it became a bustling hub for military activity. The 243rd Coast Artillery, 103rd Field Artillery Brigade, and later the 43rd and 118th all made use of its grand halls. 

The Cranston Street Armory has been utilized for a variety of different things in addition to its military use. For several years, this castle played host to exciting indoor track and field meets, including the Brown Invitational Track Meet and the Rhode Island State Championships. Part of the building was transformed into a thriving film studio for a bit. Other sections have been utilized by the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal. Unfortunately, today the castle is in dire need of renovations and repair. 

Cranston Street Armory Providence Rhode Island

Cranston Street Armory currently houses the Providence State Fire Marshall Academy.

©Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Wildlife Around Cranston Street Armory

The Cranston Street Armory is located in Providence, Rhode Island, near the banks of the Providence River. Native fish like eels and herring often make their way up the river from the ocean. The ponds and lakes nearby are filled with yellow perch, largemouth bass, and other fish. Raccoons, skunks, squirrels, foxes, deer, and a large variety of birds also live in the area. In fact, peregrine falcons have even been known to build nests atop the buildings of downtown Providence! The Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership also works to educate and connect residents to the wildlife and nature of the city, especially in urban areas. 

6. Ochre Court

Our sixth and final enchanting castle in Rhode Island was originally the home of one of America’s prominent dynasties, the Goelet family. The Goelets had risen from humble beginnings as eighteenth-century traders to become major players in nineteenth-century investments. After purchasing the plot where Edgewater Mansion stood, the Goelets tore it down in order to build something much bigger and grander: Ochre Court. 

Richard Morris Hunt, the architect behind Belcourt Castle, drew inspiration from the chateaux of France’s Loire Valley, designing Ochre Court as an opulent masterpiece. Full of elegance and grandeur, he completed the castle with tall chimneys, turrets, high roofs, and elaborate dormer windows. The Louis XIII style of architecture was the perfect choice for this opulent castle. The exquisite decor inside and out featured classical-style ceiling paintings, carved emblems and statues, heraldry, and a profusion of stunning stained glass. The soaring three-story hallway provides a breathtaking view of the sea. It is also adorned with pointed arches, stained glass, and gargoyles. 

Eventually, the Goelet family donated this sprawling estate to the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1947, laying the foundation for what would become Salve Regina University. In fact, today Ochre Court serves as the university’s main administration building. You can visit the main floor during opening hours, or take a guided tour of the castle during the summertime.

Ochre Court is a Gilded Age mansion in Bellevue Avenue Historic District in Newport , Rhode Island RI, USA.

Ochre Court is now part of the Salve Regina University campus in Rhode Island.

©Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.com

Wildlife Around Ochre Court

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, Ochre Court is surrounded by many different types of wildlife. From weasels, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, and bats, to turtles, toads, frogs, snakes, and salamanders, there are all kinds of amazing animals to spot here. In addition, the campus of Salve Regina University is a recognized arboretum, with 80 acres of lush and exotic trees that provide homes to numerous bird species. The willow flycatcher, northern bobwhite, eastern towhee, cerulean warbler, and eastern kingbird are just a few examples. 

Ochre Court is located along the coast of Easton Bay. In addition to the natural wildlife found in the bay and in Newport, the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium is home to over 150 species of animals from Narragansett Bay. Save the Bay cares for rescued and recovering animals. The establishment works to release urchins, sharks, jellies, skates, turtles, seahorses, and other sea creatures back into Rhode Island waters. 

Summary of 6 Enchanting Castles Nestled in Rhode Island

RankEnchanting CastleLocation
1DunmereNarragansett
2Hazard CastleNarragansett
3Belcourt CastleNewport
4Seaview Terrace (Carey Mansion)Newport
5Cranston Street ArmoryProvidence
6Ochre CourtNewport
Summary Table of 6 Enchanting Castles Nestled in Rhode Island


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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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