Party On Ghosts – Haunted Newport
Hotel Viking is said to be one of many haunted Newport, Rhode Island places.
When I think of things that go bump in the night, I like to imagine the mysterious noises are of the friendly variety, generated by happy ghosts who are having the time of their lives in, well, the afterlife.
That’s the case at Hotel Viking, where legend and reported sighting suggest a group of otherworldly guests continue to party long after their last call. From the time it opened in 1926, Hotel Viking has been at the center of Newport’s social scene, hosting gala parties, extravagant weddings and sophisticated formal events. Apparently, at least one party was so memorable, it left an imprint on time: Staff and guests have repeatedly reported hearing the disembodied sounds of a party — music and laughter – in full swing coming from what is now a storage area.
Tom D’Agostino, a Rhode Island-based paranormal investigator and author of 11 books about New England hauntings, has a theory about the everlasting party at Hotel Viking.
“My theory is, we live in pressure zones,” says D’Agostino who employs the laws of physical science, metaphysical science, social science, astronomy, astrology and even meteorology in his practice. “Like in meteorology, the pressure zones are energy pockets. A pocket is a moment in place and time and, when the conditions are right, it replays that moment.”
A veteran paranormal investigator, D’Agostino has been hunting ghosts for 34 years. Together with his wife, Arlene, he has conducted more than 1,500 investigations. Asked to rank Newport’s haunting rate on a scale of one to 10, he says, “Newport is right up there at a 10. You can park your car, walk around and start picking up on things. If you spend a weekend in Newport looking for places where things have happened, you’ll end up saying, ‘Wow, that was a great weekend.’”
In fact, some of Newport’s most legendary haunted places are within walking distance of Hotel Viking.
Built in 1652 as a private residence, White Horse Tavern opened as a pub in 1673. Reports of hauntings suggest a Colonial-era Lothario remains on the premises; an elderly man dressed in Colonial clothing occasionally shows up near a fireplace in the tavern dining room. The randy spirit shows a distinct preference for female companionship. Sightings at the tavern also include a female ghost hovering above the dining room and a gentleman spirit, perhaps a former manager, who occasionally checks in with what seems to be an attempt to supervise the current-day staff.
The Redwood Library and Athenaeum also has a ghostly presence watching over its operations. Staff members have reported seeing a male entity wandering around the library in the evening. Could it be the ghost of an errant lendee trying to return books he borrowed before he crossed into the next realm?
Dating to 1895, The Breakers is one of Newport’s most opulent mansions. Originally home to steamship and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and his wife, Alice, the 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo replaced the original Breakers, a wooden house destroyed by fire in 1893. Inhabited by members of the Vanderbilt family for decades, the Newport Preservation Society acquired the National Historic Landmark in 1972. Reported hauntings include sightings of Alice Vanderbilt in the house museum.
Another magnificent Newport mansion, Beechwood*, also known as Astor’s Beechwood, ranks among Newport’s most haunted places. Suspected paranormal activity includes doors that swing open on their own, pockets of cold air and disembodied footsteps. Sightings include two female apparitions, one wearing a maid’s uniform and the other in a yellow ballroom gown. An interesting connection: John Jacob Astor IV and his second wife, Madeleine, were passengers on The Titanic’s last voyage. John perished but Madeleine and her maid survived. Madeleine inherited Beechwood and maintained the property until her death in 1940. Coincidence?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Pardon the pun.) The roster of Newport hauntings goes on and on. Take a page from Tom D’Agostino’s book and plan a weekend getaway to Hotel Viking. Ghost hunting is optional.
If you are not spooked by the spooky and looking for more Spooky Things to Do in Newport in October, What’s Up Newp has a few more things.
*Beechwood is currently under renovation and closed to the public.