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History of Belcourt Castle

Belcourt Castle was constructed for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, who inherited a fortune from his father August Belmont, the Rothschild Banking representative in America. His summer cottage incorporated his love for horses and armor, medieval and renaissance architecture within 60-rooms. A bachelor of 36, he had 30 servants - butler, house staff, footmen/stableboys, kitchen staff and groundskeepers - whose aggregate wages were about $100.00 a week for round-the clock service.

As early as 1888, during the Gilded Age Society extravaganzas, Mr. Belmont met Mrs. William Kissam Vanderbilt, wife of his best friend and business partner in several sporting ventures. Alva E. Smith, daughter of an Alabama cotton merchant, was educated in France, married the second son of William H. Vanderbilt and had three children before she divorced Vanderbilt to marry Oliver Belmont in 1895.

After Belmont's death at 50 in 1908, Mrs. Belmont became involved in the Women's movement and actively supported votes for women. She died in 1933, still the owner of Belcourt.

Belcourt was sold by the last surviving brother, Perry Belmont, in 1940. It remained unoccupied until 1956, when the present owners, the Tinney Family, purchased the house as a residence. Belcourt Castle soon evolved into a museum as the Tinneys added their fabulous art collection from 33 European and Oriental countries.

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