Though everyone may flock to visit Lovecraft’s grave or the ghosts of the East Side this Halloween season, there’s a hidden gem on Broadway with its own scary stories to tell. Barnaby Castle has graced the West Side since its construction in 1875. It was built in a Victorian style that was eccentric even for its time, with a tower, wondrous stained glass windows and a carriage house in the rear. It was commissioned by Jerthomul Barnaby, the proprietor of a very successful department store in downtown Providence. A Democratic party bigwig, he died in 1889. His wife, however, lived for another two years before being murdered by poisoned whiskey sent via US Mail.
Since the late 1800s, this gem of Broadway has become rundown. But there’s been movement toward renovating it back to its former glory. On October 28, the Castle will host Halloween at the Castle, its first such party in more than a century. “This isn’t your standard fundraiser,” says organizer Kaitlyn Frolich. “We want people to get their tickets, have a good time and enjoy the castle.” She’s hoping to raise enough money to replace and repair the 118 windows on the property. Many of them were custom-made for the building in the 19th century and aren’t the kind you can pick up at your local hardware store. The plan is to engage local artisans for the job.
The basic ticket for this one-of-a-kind party gets you in on the ground floor. It includes an open bar and local food from Julians and Laughing Gorilla Catering. Music will be provided by local singer Miss Wensday with a DJ following. A VIP ticket gets you into all three floors, plus the turret, and even more food from Xo Cafe, Nami Sushi and a lot more. Cocktail attire is expected, but costumes are strongly encouraged, as the night will have a costume contest.
“We don’t want to see it knocked down and replaced with condos,” says Kaitlyn. “The money is going to a local landmark, and will funnel money into local jobs and give the community something it can use and enjoy.” She has a background in interior design, and more than seven years in event planning. The renovation for the castle is expected to take some time. Restoring the windows, for example, is estimated to cost more than $100,000, and the Halloween party should go a long way toward reaching that goal. Once the renovations are complete, the castle is intended to be used as an event space, providing Providence with an elegant reminder of the past.
While Kaitlyn typically schedules private tours for the castle, on rare occasions it does open to the public. This past September during the Doors Open RI Festival, the castle saw more than 1550 members of the public visit. With some luck and some work, the Castle can continue to be an historical treasure for decades to come.
If you’re interested in buying tickets for Halloween at the Castle, follow the link: artful.ly/store/events/13537. Follow them on Facebook for information about future events or tours.