Welcome to my very first paranormal post in my “The Haunting of:” series. I hope you enjoy these paranormal stories! If you do, comment or like so I know!
Ohio’s state bird is the Cardinal, the state wild flower is the White Trillium, and if there were to be a state haunted house it would very likely be the Franklin Castle formally known as the Tiedemann Mansion.
The Franklin Castle perfectly fits the part of a haunted house and was even utilized as a horror-film set, which doesn’t surprise me at all. The looming, creepy castle has been a family home, a club house for German singing societies, and a German socialist organization. It has been a Dr.’s office, private apartments, a party house, a bootleggers establishment, and some even say a yet-discovered subterranean corridor was a way station on the Underground Railroad and leads all the way to Lake Erie, used to smuggle fugitive slaves to Canada. Whatever the facts, the house was mostly unoccupied. No one ever stayed for long and those who did stay didn’t seem to have the best luck, the Tiedemann’s the most…
This house has many stories and many owners but let’s start at the beginning, with Hannes Tiedemann. Hannes was born in Germany in 1833 and came to Cincinnati where he left his barrel-making business to join Weideman Co., a wholesale grocery and liquor business. Eventually he went into banking where he made an enormous leap socially.
The Newly rich German tradesman spared no expense when building the Romanesque mansion. He built at least twenty-one rooms (the count varies), the fourth floor ballroom is reached by a spiral staircase, there’s beautifully carved woodwork throughout the house, marble fireplaces, wine cellars, and hidden passageways leading to secret hidden rooms.
At the front of the house is a small room and carefully hidden in the floor is a trap door that leads to a tunnel that runs for some distance and then stops. One secret room was said to contain remnants of the prohibition. Another room was found to contain human bones, a Dr.’s botched patients said some, medical specimens said others. Old bones said the Coroner.
One of the secret rooms was the site of mass murder. Twenty German socialites were gunned down in a political dispute. Others say that room also contained a Nazi spy’s radio and piles of Nazi propaganda but this was some time in the future…
Hannes Tiedemann married Luise and soon after she had a son named August and a daughter named Emma. In 1881 the family began to slide into tragedy. On January 16th, fifteen year-old Emma died from what was listed as “diabetes”. In April, Hannes eighty-four year-old mother who also lived in the house, died of “old age” and in the next two years Hannes and Luise buried three babies. One just eleven days old. On March 24th, 1895, Luise Tiedemann died at the age of fifty-seven of what was recorded as “liver failure”. The family is buried at the Riverside Cemetery.
Hannes made plans to build an even grander house so he sold the Franklin St. Castle to a brewer named Muhlhauser from Buffalo who sold the Castle to the Socialist Eintracht Club in 1913.
Hannes eventually remarried a waitress but it didn’t last too long and his will cut her off without a penny.
Hanne’s son, August, died at the age of 41 of a stroke and all of his grand-children died before the age of 40. The family died off till only Hannes Tiedemann was left.
Hannes was “stricken suddenly while walking in the park” stated his obituary. Concluding that the cause of death was a stroke. While others think it was the hand of God, smiting him for all the evil he committed.
It’s hard to tell fact from legend with the Franklin Castle, legend tells of a bloody ax murder in the front tower room. Neighbors have long sworn they’ve seen a woman in black staring down at them from the tower windows. Surrounding the ballroom are more hidden passageways to secret rooms, legend says that in one of these rooms Tiedemann hung his thirteen year-old niece (or illegitimate daughter) Karen from one of the rafters either because she was “insane” or “promiscuous” (which back then it was considered “insanity” for a well-brought-up Victorian girl to be “promiscuous”). It was also rumored that he caught her in bed with his grandson.
Still some say a young servant girl was murdered in the servants quarters on her wedding day because she rejected Tiedemanns advances. Another version talks about a room where Tiedemanns mistress, Rachel, was tied-up, gagged, and shot because she wanted to marry another man.
A Cleveland nurse is quoted saying she cared for an ailing attorney in the Castle in the 1930’s. She recalled being terrified at night by the sound of a child crying. A lingering story around the Franklin Boulevard neighborhood tells of “a giant” lurking and hiding around the castle. A later owner said this might be trace memories of Tiedemanns old caretaker, a German man named Karl, who stood as tall as seven feet and suffered bullying from the local kids because of it.
Mrs. Romano, her husband and their 6 children bought the Castle in 1968 for $27,500, she was long transfixed by the Tiedemann Mansion and in 1973 she told the local newspaper:
“I went by the place and I kept looking at it. I was fascinated that the windows were so dirty, I just sat there and stared. Then I came back two or three times, just standing and looking at the house, and I’d go into a kind of daze”.
When the Castle went on the market, Mrs. Ramano bought the Castle that same day. Supposedly the same day they moved in, Mrs. Romano sent the kids upsairs to play, it was a little while later when the kids came down and asked if they could have a cookie for their new friend, a little girl in an old fashioned, long dress and an unfamiliar manner of speech who was upstairs crying. She followed the children back upstairs but found no one.
“Mommy, she dresses funny, she has real long dresses, and she talks kind of funny.”
Little Deedee Romano was quoted saying. Dee Romano reported hearing organ music even though there was no organ in the house, disembodied footsteps (apparently marching), voices, and the sound of glasses clinking on the third floor. Items would go missing and the reappear, such as her vital asthma medication. She said her two older sons from a previous marriage eventually refused to sleep on the on the third floor because “something” was pulling the sheets off off them. She would also wake up screaming.
James Romano, on the other hand, saw the humor in the situation telling the newspaper;
“When you buy a Castle, you get the ghosts. It’s Halloween at our place 365 days a year.”
Mrs. Romano, who claimed to have ESP and was clairvoyant, was told by a priest that she was possessed from time to time by the spirit of Luise Tiedemann and that there was evil in the house and they should leave. A Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society also came to the house under invitation by the family and came to a similar conclusion. One of the team members also claimed a cold hand clutched her neck in the dark.
Mrs. Romano, was the most effected by the house believing that there were many spirits on the third floor. In an interview for the local newspaper she said;
“I’ll tell you what I’ve done, they tell me I shouldn’t have, that it is very dangerous, but I’ve sorta made a pact with what’s here in this house… I spend a lot of time alone in this house and I would find myself walking from floor to floor and then suddenly I would start crying for no reason… just cry as if my heart would break and I don’t know why.”
The Romanos sold the house in September of 1974 to Rev. Sam Muscatello who planned to make the Castle a church, but instead he gave ghost tours. During his ownership, John Webster a Cleveland radio personality, came to the Castle for a radio special.
“I was climbing the stairs with a large tape recorder strapped over my shoulder, when something I couldn’t see tore the recorder from my shoulder. I just stood there holding the microphone as I watched the tape recorder fly down to the bottom of the stairs, where it broke into pieces.”
Nonetheless, John Webster came away from The Franklin Castle with an audio snippet that he would play every Halloween. In it you can hear Webster conducting an interview during which an evil, chuckling laugh could be heard in the background which everyone swears could not be heard at the time.
In January 1975, Muscatello produced even harder evidence of the horrors at the Franklin Castle. Behind a panel in an upstairs room Muscatello claimed he found pieces of human remains in a case. Deputy Coroner, Dr. Lester Adelson, examined the bones and judged them to be very old.
The discovery meshed with an earlier account than an occupant of the building had found human remains of small children or babies. Are they the remains of Tiedemanns unrecorded fatalities? or are they the forgotten anatomy studies of one of Clevelands many medical students? No one knows exactly what they were doing there.
Muscatello was never really successful at turning the Castle into a tourist attraction and he eventually sold the Castle to a doctor who sold it to a Cleveland police cheif who in a less than a year sold it to George Mirceta who was reportedly unaware of the Castle being haunted.
George conducted tours of the Castle and asked people to write down any out-of-ordinary experiences in a guest book. some reported seeing a woman in white, hearing babies crying, lights swinging back and forth, and one woman complained of being choked in the tower room, not knowing about Tiedemanns misstress being strangled in that room.
In 1982 the Tiedemann property joined the National Register of Historic Places and had been written up in nationally published paranormal books as “The House of Evil”.
The Castle was eventually sold to Michael DeVinko in 1979. DeVinko tried restoring the house to it’s original beauty. DeVinko successfully tracked down the original blue-prints, pieces of furniture that originally belonged to the Castle, and even the original key, that still worked after several decades.
DeVinko spent over $1.3 million dollars restoring the Franklin Castle. which by his count had 28 rooms, and 80 windows. He had plans to restore more of the Castle but in 1994 the house went on the market again. Michelle Heimburger, a Cleveland native bought the Castle for $350,000. She had wanted to own the Castle since the age of 5, hoping to make it a private home and maybe even a bed-and-breakfast eventually.
Michelle threw a “Castle warming party” and she attempted to restore the Castle but in November 1999 a homeless man started a fire and as it swept over the Castle, all that hard work was ruined, the Castle was a devastating wreck. After she fixed the roof and the tower, Michelle Heimburger announced the Castle was for sale again.
In 2000 Cleveland writer and film producer Brian Enk shot a low-budget horror movie called “Midnight Days” in the Castle.
In 2003 Charles Milsap bought the Castle for $650,000 and he put 3 million into resoring it and opened the Franklin Castle as a club. In honor of the venture Milsap threw a huge, Gala Halloween party. Nothing happened in the Castle for years after. Maybe Houses, even haunted Castles need love too and if it felt it was being mistreated it acted to get them out…
The Tiedemann Familys graves are in Riverside Cementary, a few miles south of the Franklin Castle and I’d love to go visit the Castle and the graveyard. My fiance Mike and I plan to visit a lot of these haunted places that I’m writing about, the Franklin Castle isn’t that far from me at all so hopefully I can go visit it soon. Once I do I’ll definitely update this post with my experience.
Come back next week for another true crime or paranormal story on World Wide Mysteries! Again, if you liked this story please drop me a like, comment below and share!
If there’s a true crime or paranormal story that you’re interested in and you would like me to write about, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source Information: “Haunted Ohio” Vol. 2 by Chris Woodyard, “Cleveland Ghosts” by Charles Cassady Jr.
*Disclaimer* All views and opinions are my own unless expressed otherwise. I’m only human, I may make a mistake, please don’t take what I say as fact and do you’re own research as well. I do my very best to fact check everything through multiple sources before I post, but, if there is something I got wrong, misspelled, etc, please let me know in the comments or by email and I will fix it ASAP.