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Ohio’s Most Famous Haunted House ~ Franklin Castle
October 1, 2022
This is the first in our weekly Haunted House series for the month of October – Halloween month. Note: This house is NOT for sale.
Considered to be the “most haunted house in Ohio,” Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, may well deserve that label ….. or perhaps not. The imposing stone Queen Anne Victorian was built in 1881-1883 by the successful Cudell and Richardson architectural for Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant and founder of the Euclid Ave Savings and Trust. Located at Franklin Boulevard and West 44th Street, the four-story, 20-room mansion was located on one of the most prestigious streets in the city at the time.
According to different accounts, Tiedemann was either a saint who built his upscale house not only for his family, but also to share with friends, family and others emigrating from Germany to stay when they first arrived in Cleveland, or a cruel, vindictive man who took pleasure abusing others. When a string of mysterious deaths in the Tiedemann family occurred, rumors circulated that Tiedemann’s dark side was his true personality.
Daughter Emma died from diabetes at the age of 15 in 1881. Soon after, Tiedemann’s elderly mother, Wiebeka, died. Tiedemann and his wife Louise would bury three more young children over the years, giving rise to rumors that there was more to their deaths than met the eye. As a distraction for his wife from these terrible events, Tiedemann hired a firm to begin extensive construction on the home, adding a ballroom, turrets and gargoyles. Louise Tiedemann, however, died from a liver disease in 1895, at the age of 57, and the following year, Hannes sold the house to the Mullhauser family. That was not before speculation that he had murdered a niece named Karen, a servant girl named Rachel and a mistress while living in the Franklin Boulevard castle. By 1908, the entire Tiedemann nuclear family were dead, leaving no direct heirs to inherit Hannes’ significant personal wealth.
From 1921 to 1968, the house saw a series of owners, until James Romano, his wife, and six children settled in the home. The family reported several ghostly encounters in their new home. They even brought priests in to attempt exorcisms and had a now-defunct ghost-hunting group investigate the paranormal activity of the castle. Per newspaper accounts, Mrs. Romano was warned that the house was evil and that her family should move out. By 1974, the Romanos sold the house to Sam Muscatello, who planned to turn it into a church. As fundraisers to complete his plan, Muscatello offered haunted house tours and overnight stays at tFranklin Castle. Human bones were discovered in a closet in 1975 but many believe they were planted by Muscatello in order to gain publicity for his ghost tours.
Saint or Sinner?
It seems unlikely that the ghosts of the Tiedemann children would be haunting the Franklin Castle. The Tiedemann family did not move into the home until until 1883, and both Emma and Wiebeka died in 1881. Wilhemine, Ernst and Albert died as infants in the 1870s, and August and Dora passed away in 1906, long after the family had moved out of the house. The niece Karen and servant girl Rachel, both speculated to have been murdered by Hannes, never existed.
So what do you think? Was Hannes Tiedemann a saint or sinner?
In 1984, Judy Garland’s last husband, Michael DeVinko, purchased the castle and made major renovations. Over the next decade, he spent almost one million dollars renovating it, even tracking down some of the original furnishings. Devinko claimed the existence of poltergeists. He sold it in 1994, and the house remained empty until 1999. A couple of fires damaged part of the house and carriage house over the next 20 years, but the latest owner has plans to divide the property into three units. It is privately owned, but tours may drive by.