Newport is often renowned for its miles of unspoiled coastline, panoramic ocean views, eclectic shopping scene and dynamic culinary marvels, not to mention our fair share of history -- 377 years to be exact. Truth be told, you don't get to be this old without a few tales of legend, folklore and haunts. Thus, we're celebrating Halloween the right way -- with a few spooky tales.
The White Horse Tavern, America's Oldest Tavern
Because where else would we start? The tavern is famous for their past heavily steeped in history, but it also boasts a few haunted tales behind its gorgeous red facade. Before it operated as a tavern, the building was used as a courthouse; a meeting place for Colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors and founding fathers; and lastly, a private residence. One evening in the early 1720s, two seamen arrived off a ship in Newport Harbor. The then owners of the tavern, John and Mary Nichols, offered the two men food and a place to sleep for the night. The two men slept on the second floor on thin mattresses set next to the fireplace. The next morning, when Mary arose to make breakfast, she noticed the two men never descended from upstairs. When she went ups to check on them, she found one of the men dead by the fireplace, his belongings missing, and the other man nowhere to be found. What actually happened is still unknown, but numerous tavern employees over the years have noted unexplained sightings of a man dressed in eighteenth-century sailor's attire, as well as footsteps from the second floor when no other humans are walking about. The spirit seems restless, always pacing the floor where his body was found dead.
The 160-foot long cliff overlooking Second Beach in Middetown is rumored to be haunted dating back to the 1600s. Legend believes there once was an Indian squaw accused of murdering a white man. As punishment, the Indian Satan, Hobomoko, took the squaw to the top of the cliff, chopped off her head and threw her body into the chasm below. It is believed that the squaw's spirit haunts the chasm. Our question is whether she haunts it with or without her head attached.
The sixty-room, Louis XIII style estate on Bellevue Avenue has a long reputation of being haunted. It was purchased by the Tinney Family in 1956, the point at which it was given its name. The family used the estate to showcase their expansive art and antiques collection and on July 28, 1957, opened its doors to the public for guided tours of the museum. One night, Harle Tinney awoke to find a man standing beside the bed wearing a long brown robe and a hat that covered his face. Moments later, the figure walked through the wall and disappear. Years later, when the family was remodeling that same room, they discovered there used to be a doorway where the robed figured previously exited.
This wasn't the only haunted experience Harle has within the castle's walls. She recounts one of her experiences in Haunted Newport:
"No one was home so I thought it was strange that the lights were on in the ballroom. Being naturally conservative and not wanting to burn the electricity unnecessarily, I went through the ballroom to turn out the lights. After I had turned off the switch, there was a very little light left. As I passed the front of the armor, something screamed at me. It was a horrible and loud, roaring sound. Then the lights went back on and I turned them off again and the armor screamed. When it screamed a third time, I ran as fast as I could from the room. The scream was terrifying. It sounded like someone was being killed."
Fans of the 1960's television series "Dark Shadows" would most likely recognize this French renaissance chateau located on Newport's Ruggles Avenue. Used for all of the external shots of the television series' Collins mansion, Carey Mansion has a bit of haunted history of its own. Edson Bradley built the mansion, originally known as Seaview Terrace, in 1907 in Washington DC. In the 1920's, Bradley relocated himself and his family to Rhode Island, and along with them came Seaview Terrace, dismantled into pieces and then rebuilt on Ruggles Avenue. In 1929, Julia Bradley, Edson Bradley's wife, died. Bradley held her funeral the chapel located within the mansion. Five years later, he himself passed away while in London. Their daughter Julia inherited the house, but soon lost it when she was penalized for not paying her taxes. A year later, it became an exclusive all-girl summer boarding school, renamed Burnham-by-the-Sea and owned/ran by Mr. and Mrs. George Waldo Emerson where incidences of smoke detectors going off for no reason, bottles flying off desks and radios turning on and off by themselves were often reported. It's believed that Bradley's late wife Julia felt such a great attachment to the house that she refused to leave even after her death.
Colt State Park
Colt State Park in Bristol originally operated as a farm until it was sold to the state. Prior to being sold, it is believed that a stable hand died in the barn. To this day, staff of the park shut off lights and close doors only to find them on or open when they return a few hours later. One visitor reported an incident in which he was going to his car from the beach in an area referred to as Suicide Hill when he saw two little girls walking up the path towards him. They vanished as he got closer. A staff worker similarly confirmed that he has seen and heard the same girls giggling in the woods near that area. According to many, two young sister drowned in the waters in the 1970s.
Where: Firehouse Theater
When: 9:00 PM
Admission: $18 per person, $15 per person when you use the code "COSTUME"
Details: Join RI's most award-winning comedy troupe, The Bit Players, as they present their annual Halloween night of laughs and giveaways! In addition to the usual BYOB there will be a costume contest for all those that come dressed up. We will have gift certificates to local restaurants as prizes in addition to a discounted ticket price for our audience members that come in costume.
Where: Jane Pickens Theater
When: 8:00 - 10:00 PM
Details: Halloween returns to the big screen at Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center, digitally restored and featuring an exclusive interview and retrospective with director John Carpenter. See the film that defined a genre and launched an iconic franchise the way is was meant to be seen, on the big screen. Plus, catch an exclusive interview and retrospective with the legendary master of horror, John Carpenter. Introducing the film, this special bonus explores the history of the film and the indelible influence Halloween has had on not only the horror genre, but the entire film industry. Carpenter explains why the film is meant for the big screen, the influences that inspire his filmmaking and how Halloween became the highest grossing independent film of all time.
The Annual Washington Square Halloween Celebration
Where: Washington Square
When: 3:30 - 5:30 PM
Details: Trick-or-treating at local businesses around the square.
Halloween Costume Party
Where: Fastnet Pub
When: 9:00 PM
Details: Join Fastnet Pub for a Halloween costume party where the best dressed will win a prize. Hosted by Mike Warner and the Blues Ghouls.