The Tale of Franklin Castle, the Most Haunted House in Ohio

Ralph DiMatteo History

Franklin Castle Cleveland

Update: You can now book an overnight stay in Franklin Castle! That is... if you aren't too scared.

Franklin Castle, named after the street it is located on - 4308 Franklin Blvd - indeed retains the dubious title of “The Most Haunted House in Ohio” for good reason, but our research found much more to the tragic, and at times even sordid, history of the location.

What we found truly interesting is the wide variety of impressions that those native to Cleveland have of the spooky yet stately Victorian castle.

It’s probably because the history and/or legends surrounding the castle include everything from sexual depravity to murder.  

What is undeniable about whatever your thoughts are about this imposing structure is the fact that many a spirit have been rumored to or have been actually seen still roaming the premises for one reason or another.

Franklin Castle was built in 1864 for a well-to-do German immigrant, Hannes Tiedemann, his wife Louise, their first three children and Hannes’s mother Wiebeka. The deaths began in 1891 with the Tiedemann’s 15-year-old daughter reportedly dying from diabetes. Within the next month, Wiebeka would pass at the castle, and then over the next four years the Tiedemann family would lose three more children. And finally on March 24th, 1895, Louise herself would pass after a bout with liver disease.

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Over the course of its first four years, this magnificent four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath structure saw almost the entire Tiedemann family die within its walls due to tragic natural causes. Or at least that’s what was reported.

Rumors began to spring up almost immediately that what seemed like just the most tragic and unfortunate string of luck striking down the Tiedemanns was actually very well-covered-up truths about the demise of thee residents.

For instance, it would seem that young Emma’s death from diabetes at 15 would just simply be sad and tragic, but not so fast. Whispers swirled about her actual death coming by hanging from rafters in the attic. Also, and curiously, the actual causes of death were never reported for the other three children or Hannes’s mother. This only served to further the worst of the early conspiracy theorists of the time that Hannes was actually murdering his family members for reasons unknown.

Incredibly, the rumors persisted as Hannes was even scrutinized for the death of his wife simply because he married a younger woman barely a year after her passing, and it didn’t stop there.

Rumors swirled that a niece had also been hung in a secret tunnel beneath the castle, a mistress of Hannes was found strangled, and there was even the speculated murder of a servant girl, who Hannes was, you guessed it, having an affair with.

This mysterious piece of Cleveland history continues to this day.  

The Mullhauser family bought the castle from Tiedemanns and things were relatively calm for around 25 years. Then things got interesting and at times flat-out weird.

The Mulhauser family sold the castle to, believe it or not, the German Socialist Party. Although publicly said to be a culture center between 1921-68, area residents didn’t buy it. Spies were rumored to meet and get assignments here, with assassinations planned and rumored to be executed on site, and some even believed experiments were being performed on humans by a doctor who had rented space in the castle during this time.

Oh, but there is more. Around 1968, the castle was purchased by the Romano family, who almost immediately attempted an exorcism because of the unexplainable occurrences they experienced. They were advised to move and eventually sold in 1974 to Sam Muscatello, who saw the castles potential for tourism and began holding ghost tours.

The next owner, who purchased the property in the mid-80s, was the final husband of actress Judy Garland, Michael DeVinko. He made quite a few renovations to the storied old building and primarily entertained large parties as opposed to making residence there.

The current owner, since 2011, is Oh Dear! Productions, a foreign LLC that uses the castle as its Cleveland base of operations.

Because the manor is privately owned, it is not open to the public at this time, but the castle is part of Cleveland ghost tours, and those who take part are hoping for a glimpse of the Lady in Black, the ghost that keeps watch from the tower window.

There is much, much to learn about this Cleveland treasure, but most of all, it's well worth a trip to drive or walk by and see or hear for yourself if there might be anything to the many rumors, sightings, and reported sounds of wailing, footsteps and even crying children.

Let us know what you find out; we’d love to follow up with you.

(Image source: Tabitha Kaylee Hawk)

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