Friday, October 23, 2015

The Most Haunted House in Ohio: Franklin Castle – Cleveland, Ohio

It’s October – my favorite time of year, and with it comes the chance to investigate some haunted places around the U.S. This year, A Grave Interest will focus on haunted houses, and the spirits who are living up to some interesting mischief making …

It’s known as Franklin Castle because of its location on Franklin Boulevard, though the real name is the Hannes Tiedemann House. But regardless of what you call it; it is said to be the most haunted house in the state of Ohio.

The mansion was built in 1881 for Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant, and his family. Boasting four stories and more than two-dozen rooms, the castle has a dark legacy of death.

Tiedemann Monument
The new year had gotten off to a dubious start in 1891, when on  January 15, Tiedemann’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma died due to complications with diabetes. The family was still in mourning when Hannes’ elderly mother died.

Suddenly, within the next three years, three more of Tiedemann’s children died in the house; one was less than two weeks old. No cause was given for any of the deaths. Tongues wagged and many felt that five deaths in three years was more than unfortunate.

Hannes’ wife, Luise, was inconsolable, but he tried to cheer her by adding rooms and passages throughout the house, including the addition of a ballroom on the fourth floor. Gargoyles and turrets were also added to the exterior of the house, and a Gothic castle-like appearance took shape.

Then on March 24 1895, tragedy struck again when Luise Tiedemann died of liver disease at the age of fifty-seven. Hannes said he had had enough and sold the house to the Mullhauser family, wishing them a more joyful time there than his family had experienced.

The Mullhauser’s lived there several years before selling the house to the German Socialist Party for their meetings and activities. It was rumored that several people had been gunned down in the house due to a political dispute.

During Prohibition, the network of hidden rooms and passageways were discovered throughout the old house. The real reason they had been built were unknown; all of the Tiedemann’s were dead, but it made the mansion a perfect location for bootlegging operations.

By the late 1960s, the house was falling into a state of disrepair, but James Romano and his family thought it was worth saving. Romano moved his wife and six children into the mansion in January 1968, seventy-seven years after the first death had occurred. 

The family soon began experiencing odd occurrences; organ music could be heard throughout the house but no organ was inside. The Romano children requested cookies for their friend who lived upstairs – a young girl only they could see, who always cried. Footsteps sounded through the hallways, and a heavy tread was often heard walking along the concealed passages.

By 1974, the Romano family decided to move out and sold the property to a man who was going to turn the structure into a church. In order to finance the plans, tours were offered with a chance for people to stay overnight in the haunted mansion.

Paranormal groups flocked to the mansion, including professional ghost hunter, Hans Holzer. Holzer told church members that several spirits haunted the house, including that of a girl named Karen.

Hans Holzer
According to Holzer, Karen had died at the turn-of-the century after her father had words with a man she was seeing. Something went terribly amiss and Karen was killed during the argument. To avoid a murder charge, her body was hung from a rafter and her death ruled a suicide. This is said to be the reason she remains.  Karen is believed to occupy a third floor room that stays about 10º colder than the rest of the houses, even in the summer.

Rumors flew during the church remodel when the bones of several babies were discovered in a secret room. The coroner stated that the bones were over 70 years old, so no investigation was held.

Neighbors have repeatedly reported seeing a tall sender woman dressed all in black, standing in one of the turret windows. Many believe it is the spirit of Rachel, Tiedemann’s mistress. Supposedly when he found out she was leaving him for another man, he took her to the castle and strangled her in the turret room. The sounds of choking can still be heard in the mansion.

But no one ever stayed too long here. The house sold twice in 1983, again in 1985, was up for sale in 1994 and sold again in 1999. Ownership of the mansion has changed hands as reports of paranormal activity continued to mount. Reports of spinning chandeliers, wispy figures, doors opening and closing on their own, and faces appearing in the woodwork, only to disappear when sighted could shake the most interested buyer.

In 2001, the house was purchased by Chiara Dona dalle Rose, a European tapestry artist who planned to convert it into a two family dwelling. As of last year, construction crews could be seen working in the house, but the local architect hired for the renovations is no longer involved. Will the mansion ever be lived in again? The answer depends; do you count those troubled spirits that appear to still reside in Franklin Castle?

~ Joy

Franklin Castle
(Tiedemann House)
4308 Franklin Blvd
Cleveland, OH

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