Rhode Island October 29, 2017
The Story Behind This Rhode Island Castle Is Truly Fascinating
When you think of Rhode Island’s mansions, you likely jump immediately to Newport – but few know that one of the state’s most fascinating historic homes is actually located in Providence. With fanciful architecture and a back-story full of twists and turns, it’s surprising that this castle doesn’t receive more attention.
If you've spent much time in Providence, you've probably driven by the magnificent Barnaby Castle at 299 Broadway and wondered about its story.
What you may not realize is that this mansion, with its opulent copper sunroom and ostentatious architecture, has a story worthy of a storybook or a creepy movie.
It was originally built in 1875 for the eccentric Jerothmul Bowers Barnaby, a millionaire who made his fortune selling clothing and went on to become a prominent political figure in the state.
After he died suddenly at age 59, his wife Josephine became entangled in legal troubles with his family, since she'd been left a shockingly small part of his fortune. She soon became involved (to an unknown extent) with Thatcher Graves, her physician and trusted advisor.
In 1891, members of the Rhode Island elite were shocked when Josephine died suddenly from poisoned whiskey that she'd received in the mail from an unknown sender. In a six-week trial (the first case in America of murder-by-mail), Thatcher Graves was convicted of her murder, and committed suicide in prison. In later years, his guilt came into question, and now her son-in-law is also seen as a possible culprit. At this point, the mystery will likely never be solved.
Over the years, the mansion fell into disrepair and neglect. A new owner began restoration efforts in 2008, and now occasionally holds on-site events to raise funds for the castle. Keep an eye out for the rare chance to see inside this magnificent building!
Fascinated by the Ocean State’s hidden history? Check out this
hike that will take you right to an abandoned estate.