Strange voices coming
from empty rooms and behind the walls, sounds of crying children, faces
that suddenly materialize in the woodwork, spinning chandeliers, cold
spots, and mysterious ectoplasm...these are but a few of the bizarre
occurrences witnessed by those who have entered Franklin Castle, one of
Ohio's most notorious haunted places. Built in 1865, this Gothic
mansion located on Franklin Avenue in Ohio City was home to German
immigrant Hannes Tiedemann, his wife, mother, and several children.
Hannes Tiedemann was a
grocer and investment banker who had a reputation as a loud, harsh man.
Because of his personality, many in the community believed that he was
also abusive toward his family and ran his household like a tyrant.
These rumors only intensified following the deaths of his children, wife
and mother, who all died within a short period of time under
"mysterious" circumstances. Many believe that Hannes also murdered
his niece and a young servant girl.
Hannes Tiedemann left
the castle in 1895 shortly after his wife died.
Yet, the legends and legacy of the castle continued, leading some to
conclude that the castle itself is cursed.
The Tiedemann deaths
began with Hannes' 15 year-old daughter, Emma. Although her
official cause of death was diabetes, legend has it that Emma was
actually found hanging from the rafters in the attic. A few weeks
after her death, Hannes' elderly mother died. Her cause of death
is not known.
Then, between 1886 and
1888, at least 3 more Tiedemann children died in the castle.
Again, their cause of death was not known, although some suspicious eyes
fell upon Hannes. More babies were believed to have been born
inside the castle, but that Hannes hid their death from the public.
According to legend,
Hannes also murdered his young niece by hanging her from the
rafters of a secret tunnel. He is also said to have killed a young
servant girl on her wedding day in a fit of jealous rage, and strangled
one of his mistresses.
Hannes' wife died in
1895. Officially, she died from liver disease, although many
quietly suspected that Hannes was responsible for her death.
In 1913, Franklin
Castle was sold to the German Socialist Party. The group owned the
castle for the next 55 years. During this time, not much is known
about the goings on inside the castle, although many speculate that the
party held secret meetings and engaged in espionage.
The wildest rumor
involves the mass political assassination of about 20 members.
The party later rented
out rooms of the castle to boarders. One of those persons was
believed to be a doctor who performed "strange" experiments using human
Secret rooms and
passages do exist inside the castle, although it is not known how many.
Hannes Tiedemann supposedly used a secret room to store the bodies of
his dead babies, and killed his niece in a hidden passage by the
ballroom. His wife is said to have used a passage to safely gain
access to her children, away from the prying eyes of her tyrannical
The German Socialist
party is said to have used the rooms and passages to their own
advantage, even hiding the bullet-ridden bodies of its members in a
secret room in the basement.
It is also believed
that there is an underground tunnel that
extends to Lake Erie. However, those who say they have been in the
tunnel note that it ends at some point before the lake. An old
still was found in one secret room by a later homeowner, giving rise to
speculation that the house was also used as a speakeasy during
Prohibition and that the tunnel was used to run booze out of the castle.
Inside the carriage
house (pictured on the left), the current homeowner did find a
"mysterious cemented-over area in the floor."
In the windows of the
turret pictured on the left, many have claimed seeing a woman dressed in
black. She is believed to be the ghost of Rachel, the young
servant girl Hannes murdered. According to legend, it was in front of
one of these windows that Hannes hacked her to death with an axe.
In another variation of
the tale, the black-clothed Rachel is actually one of the mistresses
that Hannes strangled in one of the bedrooms.
In the 1970's, one of
the owners found the skeletons of at least a dozen babies inside a small
sealed room. They were later examined by the county coroner, who
could make no definitive determination other than stating that the bones
were very old. These skeletons could have simply been harmless
medical specimens, although some say they are the bones of the missing
In the late 1970's,
owner Sam Muscatello discovered a hidden panel in one of the walls in
the tower room. Inside, he found a skeleton. No other
information is known, although the current owner has suggested that
Muscatello himself placed the skeleton there as a way to attract
A young girl haunts the
4th floor ballroom. She may be the ghost of young Rachel, or
Tiedemann's niece. In the ballroom, it is said that a large blood
stain still appears on the marble floor, even though it was replaced
about 30 years ago. In 1999, the ballroom was damaged in a
fire and is being renovated. One wonders if this bloodstain will
come back after the work is done.
The Romano family, who
owned the home from 1968 to 1976, claimed it was visited by the ghost of
a young girl, who interacted with the Romano children. The family
later moved out of the house after receiving warnings by the ghost of a
Muscatello, who found
the skeleton, became physically ill while at the house and invited a
local news crew to investigate. They reported strange events,
including spinning chandeliers and equipment that moved on their own
A newspaper boy claimed
that when he knocked on the door, a voice told him to "come in."
Once inside the foyer, he saw an apparition of a woman in white, who
glided down the staircase and disappeared through a closed door.
Many have heard voices
of children (often crying), and have seen faces that seem to suddenly
materialize in the woodwork. Others say that doors open and shut
on their own, and have seen fog or ectoplasm form inside the rooms.
Voices coming from the walls, and "cold spots", have also been reported.
Others say the ghost of
Tiedemann himself can sometimes be seen at the park where he died,
looking to hitch a ride back home to his castle.
While many aspects of
the stories are true--including the deaths of the Tiedemann children and
wife, and the discovery of the baby skeletons--most could not be
verified. There is no reason to believe that the deaths of the
Tiedemann children, wife, and mother were anything other than natural.
The fact that Hannes
may not have been the warmest person in public does not lead to the
conclusion that he was a murderer. If anything, his reputation has
more to do with cultural perceptions than fact. Cultural
stereotypes most probably led to the same legends involving the German
Socialist party's occupation of the castle.
Perhaps part of the
appeal of the castle has to do with its secrecy. Very few people have
actually been inside the castle, leaving only one's imagination to guide
Perhaps this will
change soon, as a new owner announced that he is purchasing the
property and will open the castle as a private club in Spring 2004.
While our most recent review of real estate records fail to show any
transfer of the property to the new owner, we are hopeful that the
castle's renovations will be completed, restoring this historic landmark
to its former "glory."
It is hard not to be
seduced by the horrific, yet oddly romantic stories, especially after
viewing the castle itself, which has a magnetic, ominous presence.
On Halloween night 2003, we made a trip
to the infamous castle.
We soon discovered we
were not alone--several other people came out to view the castle that
night, including the family of a former childhood friend of the Romanos.
The windows and
entrance were boarded up tight (although there were signs of a recent
break in near a window in the back).
A night shot of the
front of the castle. Not surprisingly, several orbs appeared near
the basement windows. We doubt that they are supernatural in
nature, and are most likely floating dust or dirt caught in the flash.
January 16th, 1881
1886 to 1888
January 24th, 1895
January 19th, 1908
May 26, 1976
December 29, 1978
April 22, 1983
September 9, 1983
November 22nd, 1985
April 14, 1999
Franklin Castle is built
by Hannes Tiedemann.
Tiedemanns' 15 year-old daughter, Emma,
dies. A few weeks later,
Wiebeka, Hannes Tiedemann's elderly mother, dies.
Hannes Tiedemann becomes Founder and
Vice-President of Euclid Avenue Savings and Trust.
The Tiedemanns lose another three children. Hannes
Tiedemann then expands the castle by adding a ballroom, hidden rooms and secret
Luise Tiedemann dies from liver disease at
the age of 56. Later that same year,
Hannes Tiedemann sells the castle to the Mullhauser family.
Hannes Tiedemann marries a young waitress,
but divorces her soon thereafter.
Tiedemann's son, August, dies at the age of
Hannes Tiedemann dies suddenly from a stroke while on a walk in a park at
the age of 75.
He has no surviving children.
The Mullhausers sell the castle to the German Socialist Party
The German Socialist Party sells the castle to the Romano Family.
The Romanos sell the castle to Sam Muscatello. $34,300. Within the
same year, Muscatello sells the house to Maryon W. Ruchelman for $38,000
Ruchelman sells the house to George Mircata for $85,000
The house goes into foreclosure, and the house is sold by
Sheriff's sale to the bank.
Richard & Virginia Perez purchase the house from the bank for $73,500
Mr. & Mrs. Perez sell the house to Michael DeVinko for $93,000.
Michelle Heimburger purchases the house for $350,000. Later that
year, the house is nearly destroyed by a fire set by homeless vandal.
It has been undergoing renovation ever since.
Real Estate investor Charles Milsaps announces the launch of the Franklin
Castle Club, to be opened in Spring 2004