When you arrive at the Belvoir Winery courtyard, you are engulfed by an overwhelming sense of peace. An odd emotion when you consider the long-ago misery still embedded in the foundation of the place.
What is now an elegant winery in Liberty, Missouri, was once an orphanage. One of the other brick structures on the grounds served as an old folks’ home. Another building served as a hospital. There’s also a cemetery on site that’s home to some of the more than 10,000 deaths recorded at the location years ago.
After the first structure used as a care home was burned to the ground in 1900 in a failed attempt to unthaw frozen pipes in the building, the Missouri Odd Fellows in Liberty, a fraternal humanitarian group, had a new structure, which still stands today, built.
One of the main reasons for the existence of the International Order of Odd Fellows and other fraternal societies was to provide care of its members, widows and orphans.
Kristne Stivers, historian, event coordinator and bartender at Belvoir, described the Odd Fellows as a organization similar to the Masons or Shriners.
“The Odd Fellows wanted to take care of the sick and widowed and the orphaned, so they built this building first,” Stigers said while tending bar inside the main building.
The profile of the typical resident changed over the history of the place. In the early years, the children far outnumbered adults. The home became self-supporting through farming the land on its grounds.
The profile of the clientele today are those people interested in fine wine, corporate retreats, overnight stays and murder-mystery dinners. There are complimentary daily wine tastings, eight guest rooms and a bridal suite for overnight stays.
There also reportedly are some otherworldly guests at the Belvoir. Stivers said some come for the ghost stories about the place. She said she hasn’t seen any ghosts personally, but plenty of visitors have reported seeing them throughout the place.
“Activity-wise, they have heard like footsteps. There’s two pianos in our front rooms here those both have played, TVs have turned on and off and lights. They’ve seen a little boy and a little girl apparition here on the first floor as well as a middle-aged woman here on the first and third floor,” Stigers said.
The place has a sort of eerie elegance, with its long dark hallways and antique furnished rooms. In one room is a human skeleton on display as well as old photos and a few dusty artifacts.
Only 40 minutes from St. Joseph, the Belvoir offers a unique and hauntingly exquisite getaway experience for visitors.