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Old Colony House

Old Colony House

The Old Colony House in Newport, Rhode Island, has been the center of Newport’s civic and social affairs since its construction in 1741. This Georgian building was also used as a hospital for French soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Is it their faces staring through the window late at night that is so often reported?


Newport has had a tumultuous history. The city was a vital component of the revolution, and its place in history has not been forgotten. 

The Old Colony House serves as a time machine, with visitors being ushered back to the days of King George III and his heinous acts. These acts did not go unpunished and resulted in such historical events as the burning of the British revenue schooner Gaspee. 


A revolt that was planned right here!


The violence that surrounded the Revolutionary War has left a stain upon the entire city. The old Colony House is proof of this, but it is not the only one. Newport, RI, is one of the most haunted cities in New England!

Discover the haunted past of Newport for yourself on a tour with US Ghost Adventures! But for now, The Old Colony House. 


History of the Old Colony House


The Old Colony House is well known for its Phantom soldiers. They hang about the windows late at night, scaring onlookers going on a simple late-night stroll. They may not be alone in the old state house, however. The 4th oldest statehouse in the United States has seen its fair share of violence and uprisings in its nearly three-hundred-year history. 


A small wooden structure was built on this site in 1687. It served as the town courthouse for years until a new and sturdier structure was needed. In 1739, construction of the Colony House began. 


Richard Munday, who also built Newport’s Trinity Church and Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House, led the project. The result was one of the finest Georgian buildings in the country. Since its completion in 1741, the building has paved the way for all civic matters in Newport and even the nation. 


The Colony House and The Revolutionary War


Tensions between the British and the colonialists were already rising when the Colony House was finished. But they would soon reach catastrophic levels. 


King George II’s death was announced off the balcony of the Colony House in 1761. His son, the infamous George III, was pronounced King in that same speech and would become the number one enemy of the colonists. 


Various acts of rebellion against the British were planned at the Colony House. The most famous, the burning of the British revenue schooner Gaspee in 1772, was planned here. An inquiry by Loyalists into those responsible even took place at the Colony House. Every man involved was deemed innocent. 


On June 20th, 1776, Mayor John Handy read the Declaration of Independence aloud from that same balcony. The Revolutionary War was in full swing, and Newport was in its direct path.


French Occupation of Newport


The British overtook the boisterous port city of Newport with ease. Between 1776 and 1778, they remained here, closing off the port and decimating the population. Many left, such as the owners of the White Horse Tavern, while others were forced to live under the wartime laws of the British. 


Help came when the French and Americans signed the Treaty of Alliance on Feb 6th, 1778. An invasion was planned to retake Newport. The Battle of Rhode Island took place on August 29th, 1778, but was besieged by bad weather and retreating forces. The British won that battle, eventually withdrawing from Newport in 1779. 


The French Soldiers of The Colony House


They left behind a city in ruins, though all was not lost. The Battle of Rhode Island was the first instance of cooperation between the French and Colonialists and would continue throughout the war. 


Although American forces were glad to have their city back, they knew much work was needed. The French occupied Newport alongside them, hoping to rebuild and use the area as a garrison against the surrounding British forces. 


The Colony House was a makeshift hospital for the nearly 6,000 French soldiers arriving in 1780. It would continue to be utilized for this purpose for the rest of the war. 


Spirits of The Colony House 


Spirits now roam the Colony House because of these tumultuous times. The horrors of war plagued the vast Georgian halls. Once used for elegant matters of civil and social responsibility, they now held the dead bodies of America’s future. 


They can be seen late at night in the windows, staring out into whatever empty void they may see. They are forever caught in the currents of war and remain there to this day. 


Haunted Newport


The Old Colony House served as Rhode Island’s statehouse in 1900, where it then acted as the Newport County Courthouse. It now offers tours and is a National Historic Landmark. Through various restoration efforts, it has maintained its elegance and beauty for all to witness. 


Newport’s phantom soldiers are all around “America’s First Resort.” The Revolutionary War left a horrid mark on the city. Now, these spirits can be found nearly everywhere!

Tour Newport’s haunted past with US Ghost Adventures to see them all around you! Our experienced tour guides know exactly where they are hidden among the other mysteries of Newport, Rhode Island. 


Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, and read our blog for more spooky content until then!



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