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 specimens.

 

 

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 husband.

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 Tiedemann children.

 

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 publicity.

 

 

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 future death.

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 accord. 

 

 

 

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 them.

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. 

 



1865

January 16th, 1881


1883
 

1886 to 1888


January 24th, 1895



1896

1906

January 19th, 1908


1913

1968

May 26, 1976


December 29, 1978

April 22, 1983

September 9, 1983

November 22nd, 1985

April 14, 1999



July 2003

HISTORICAL TIMELINE


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 passages.

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 42.

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

 

Reference Links

Franklin Castle:  The Most Haunted House in Ohio? an excellent article by Troy Taylor

Franklin Castle by present owner Michelle Heimburger

Forgotten Ohio's Franklin Castle page, which includes some great shots of the interior

Franklin Castle Club by real estate investor Charles Milsaps

July 8, 2003 Cleveland Plain Dealer article for info on the recent deal between Milsaps and Heimburger.