Haunted Dwelling — Viking Hotel
1 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island, 02840
(401) 847-3300 * website
The Viking Hotel can be found on a hill at the north end of Newport's "avenue of mansions," just 5 blocks from Newport Harbor. It is the very first address on Bellevue Avenue.
The city of Newport, Rhode Island, has long been a wealthy community, being a rich seaport, due to its enterprising residents. In the 18th century, people had made their fortune through commerce and trade, thanks to the Portuguese Jewish immigrants who settled here, after fleeing persecution. They brought with them their "considerable commercial experience and connections, capital and a spirit of enterprise."
Though Newport has had its economic ups and downs, the people who lived there always came up with "a third way" to improve their economy. During Colonial times, Rhode Island suffered a little from a trade disadvantage with bigger colonies, and came up with alternative solutions/products found only in Newport to boost their livelihoods. Many became involved in promoting the whaling industry. They developed a monopoly on the newest form of energy for the time, sperm oil, by being the sole source of manufacturing it. Others made their money through the triangle trade. Caribbean sugar and molasses were sent to Rhode Island, to be distilled into rum, which was then carried to West Africa and exchanged for newly captured Africans. Newport has the dubious honor of becoming the center of the slave trade in New England, until the early 1800s.
Pirates picked Newport as their place of rest and recreation, until the government of Newport finally bowed to the pressure of the British authorities in the 1700s. Pirates that were caught, were arrested and hung on the gallows, and wound up in a grave on Goat's Island. However, the pirates did start the trend to see Newport as a destination for rest and recreation!
Around the mid-1800s, the wealthy discovered the joys of a Newport summer! Plantation owners from the south were the first to build "summer cottages" along Bellevue Avenue, followed by the wealthy from New York City, marking the rise in property values, and the flow of money into the Newport economy. It wasn't long before Newport became a tourist/recreation oriented town, catering to the wealthy who summered in Newport.
Another boost to the city's economy was its relationship with the U.S. Navy, who had established a naval base at Newport, probably during the Civil War. The U.S. Naval Academy was temporarily moved from Maryland, to Newport. The city fathers managed to hang onto this important source of revenue through the 1920s & 1930s, when they especially needed this economic stimulus. During WW2, the U.S. Navy expanded its presence, starting the Navy War College, and used Newport as home port to war ships. Between 1952-1973, the Cruiser-Destroyer Force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet was stationed in Newport. Today, Newport is still home to the Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and a major United States Navy Training Center.
Around the late teens/1920s, the lure of Florida, that now had a train connection, was also taking some of their tourist trade. Also, the wealthy no longer saw Newport the "in place" to build mansions; they were moving to Florida and Hollywood! The time to be bold once again was apparent, and prominent citizens rose to the challenge. They proposed the need for the construction of a very upscale, shining, irresistible hotel, to anchor the very important tourist/recreation trade, making up for the loss of status, and the encroachment of competing cities.
Local investors, made up of both successful, in-town merchants; (Harry A Titus, William M Leys, and James T O’Connell), and the summer residents; (William H Vanderbilt, Packer Braman, William Sheffield and Edward A Sherman), came together. They funded/or raised funds by selling stock for this grand under-taking. They formed a corporation; The American Hotels Corporation. The American Hotels Corporation skillfully managed the Viking Hotel through the various eras, until the late 1960s.
The glorious 5 storied, luxury Hotel Viking, opened on May 6th, 1926, to grand fanfare and acclaim, celebrated by the whole town of Newport. It at once attracted movie stars, bigwigs of all kinds, dignitaries, Naval officers, and the upper crust of society, bringing much needed money to the city of Newport, through these tourist dollars. It has continued to offer the best in hospitality for 80 years, under the management of several owners, all dedicated to keep the standards and top notch quality, though some guests have the usual complaints that a hotel is bound to receive.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, modest to moderate improvements were made to the Hotel Viking. In 1962, an addition of a free-standing motor inn with an outdoor pool was added to the hotel property. The Hotel Viking changed its name to "The Viking Hotel and Motor Inn".
In 1972, yet another free-standing motel was built, with a convention center located on the first floor. In the 1980s, the new ownership of the Viking Hotel and Motor Inn changed the name to simply, "The Viking Hotel", and connected the two free-standing motels to the main building, making one large complex.
By 1998, the Viking Hotel was becoming a real fixer-upper opportunity, in need of real renovation and restoration. The Viking Hotel was put on the real estate market to find a new owner, willing to put in the boatload of money needed to renovate and restore this 1926 era resort hotel. LaSalle Hotels was willing to make the commitment, and purchased the property; lock, stock and barrel. Noble House Hotels and Resorts became the new Management Company. The Viking Hotel began the long road to restoration and renovation with an initial 3 million dollar renovation in 1999. This was followed with a larger effort, using an additional 5 million dollars to update and restore a beautiful public space, the Viking Ballroom, Spa Terre and establish much needed back of the hotel space for events. These improvements greatly increased their wedding, reception and events held at The Viking Hotel, creating another source of needed funds.
Finally, in 2007, a whopping 6.2 million dollars was used to restore/renovate/update the original rooms.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Residual hauntings, caused by the good times experienced at parties, that took place throughout the eras can happen in places where people had a blast.
( The National Pastime Theatre * Hotel Andra * Hotel Adolphus )
The Viking Hotel was the place for lavish parties! Lots of happy energy was apparently sucked into the building.
People who enjoy their time spent at a resort or luxury hotel, sometimes like to visit or spend their after-life there as well, enjoying their memories!
( Nonantum Resort * Jekyll Island Club Hotel * Roosevelt Hotel * Hotel Del Monte * Biltmore Hotel * Resort Club )
Entities of past guests may have decided to visit/stay at their favorite place, The Viking Hotel.
If they are there, they are polite, well-mannered, and only on occasion let the staff know that they are there; Certainly don't want to scare the other guests!
Up until 2007, before the massive 6.2 million dollar renovation, the sound of a loud, noisy party going on in a room just above one of the old ballrooms had long been reported by staff and guests, who had been awakened and had complained to the main desk. This room, where the party noise was heard, was used for storage only. After the renovation, this room was incorporated into another room, and the party noise stopped for the time being.
However, as of 2010, people once again heard the sounds of a loud party going on somewhere in the lower levels of the hotel, at an hour that no events were scheduled anywhere in The Viking Hotel. It seems that the residual sounds of a joyous party merely moved to another location!
Some former guest(s) of the hotel apparently like to visit and relax in their favorite hotel in this world.
On occasion, it was suggested from an unknown source within the hotel that these entities let the living know of their presence. No specifics have been revealed. The possible signs of a haunting may be taking place: Light play, doors & windows have a mind of their own, foot steps, cold spots, disembodied voices and moving of things.
For years, guests have heard the disembodied voices and sounds that suggest a big party going on at odd hours of the night and early morning. They complained to the hotel desk, who probably investigated, and found no one alive was responsible.
No paranormal investigations; (if any were ever allowed at the Viking Hotel), have been made public.
Specific experiences with intelligent spirits haven't been told by past employees, guests or current ones. The Viking Hotel doesn't want the reputation of being haunted, and probably squash the temptation to tell their ghost stories. They also don't want any of their guests, alive or in spirit form be disturbed by ghost hunters, who can be an annoying lot.
Perhaps. There isn't much evidence to say that it is, except a lot of personal experiences of waking up after hearing the residual activity.
The existence of intelligent spirits was hinted at in one source, but no specific experiences with these spirits has been reported; just a general statement was issued, perhaps gotten by this author from an unnamed staff member. Perhaps the entities have been so benign, and have resisted so far the temptation to get some chuckles from the living, that perhaps Viking Hotel management doesn't feel the need to upset the spirits, and avoid the consequences; making the hauntings more active, and receiving the title, "Haunted Hotel."
One source, written in 2007, stated that the residual party noise had stopped, after the renovations. However, according to a newer source, Rich Newman's 2011 book, Ghost Hunter's Guide, the disembodied voices and party sounds have reemerged in another part of the Viking Hotel.
There is a possible explanation for the residual party noise. Some reported in hotel reviews found on-line, that the walls of The Viking Hotel are thin. Noises from live people possibly could've traveled around the inside of the hotel. However, the newer reports of residual party sounds have been identified as the same as the original party sounds heard for years, at odd hours of the night, when events aren't normally scheduled.
Ghosts of Newport; Spirits, Scoundrels, Legends and Lore
by John T. Brennan, pg. 78-79
THE HISTORY PRESS, 2007
Ghost Hunter's Guide
by Rich Newman
Llewellyn Publications, 2011
http://www.hauntings/Viking-Hotel_Newport_Rhode-Island_United-States_9170 * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport,_Rhode_Island