Franklin Castle is a gorgeous Victorian home situated on Franklin Avenue in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. It claims to be the most haunted home in Ohio. But, why is that? Is it because of its strange turrets, watchful gargoyles, and odd six-foot iron gate? Or, does this haunting go more than skin deep?
The home was built by Hannes Tiedmann and his wife Louise. Hannes was a banker and co-founder of Union Bankings & Savings Co. and used his wealth to build the gorgeous home in 1881. Tiedmann decided to name the grand home after the street it was on, Franklin. The home took about three years to complete and the Tiedmanns, along with their young children, moved in in 1883.
Sadly, shortly after moving into this beautiful home tragedy struck the Tiedmanns as their fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma, died from complications of her diabetes. Her grandmother, Hannes’ mother, would die shortly after. However, these deaths would not be the last in the home. By 1887, three more of the Tiedmann children had died in just three years.
In a likely bid to distract himself to the five deaths that occurred in the newly built mansion, Tiedemann continued to expand the home and make it ever and ever grander. He added a ballroom, turrets, and even gargoyles. The Tiedmanns would leave the home in 1896 after Hannes’ wife, Louise, passed away.
Although no activity was ever cited or discussed by the Tiedmanns, their time in their new home was weighed down with tragedy and death. Sadly, rumors that Hannes was behind these deaths swirled in the community. He was also accused of killing his mentally ill niece, his mistress (and servant) Rachel, his four children, and an illegitimate daughter. He would later die of a stroke.
In 1913, the Mullhauser family, who had the home, sold the castle to the German-American League for Culture which some sources report as being the German Socialist Party. The German-American League for Culture taking over the grand home sparked even more rumors that the home may have been chosen for its tragic background or hidden passageways, which the party would use for medical experimentation and spying on their neighbors. During this time the home was known as Eintracht Hall. It was owned by the league for almost fifty years, from 1921-1968.
In 1968, the Romanos and their six children moved into the home. Mrs. Romano had grown up in the area and had always been fascinating by the strange and striking home. Initially, they toyed with the idea of opening up a restaurant within the home although they changed their minds. Mrs. Romano recalls many strange occurrences within the house, including footsteps, disembodied voices, and the sound of people in the ballroom. Scared at the activity, they called a Catholic priest who declined on doing an exorcism. Perhaps this was because he was a not a licensed or trained exorcist? Or, maybe he thought the Romanos were being a little excessive. However, it is said he acknowledged there was something wrong with the home and that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to move. Not prepared to leave the house, they contacted the Ohio Psychical Research Group. Rumors say that one of the members was so terrified he ran screaming from the home. In 1974, the Romanos left the home.
The house was sold to Sam Muscatello who wanted to capitalize on these rumors of a haunting and offered haunted tours of the castle. He made sure to write down every visitor’s experience and often contacted the media to cover the home. This was bolstered by a discovery of a cache of human bones, believed to be baby bones, were discovered. These may have been planted by the owner who wanted to continue the haunted tours, though. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to make Franklin Castle a must-see haunted attraction and sold the place to a doctor who later sold it to Cleveland's police chief, Richard Hongisto.
The Hongistos were allegedly thrilled to snag the home but would abruptly move out just one year later when they sold it to George Mirceta who, not from the area, had no idea of the home’s strange history. Once he did learn of its history, though, he also decided to run haunted tours.
The home was sold again in 1984 to Judy Garland’s final husband, Michael DeVinko. DeVinko would spend almost one million dollars and a decade of his life restoring the home to glory. He said he has no problems with ghosts or haunting activity and jokingly said it was because he was taking care of the home. He would move out ten years later, in 1994.
It was empty for five years but sold again in 1999. However, before the new owner could move in, an arsonist took to the home and caused extreme damage and the new owner would spend quite a bit on repairs but not enough to make it livable. It was sold in 2003 and then stood empty until 2011 when it was announced the castle would be redesigned and zoned to become a three-family dwelling.
Today, Franklin Castle is home to a record company, Norton Records and Zac Webb, an artist who has lived inside the castle since June 2018. According to Cleveland Scene, “Webb's exhibition "Faces of the Castle" will be on display during the party, and is featuring portraits inspired by his time living in the old Tiedemann House. When asked if Webb has ever experienced anything he notes, "I definitely have had a few experiences in the castle, as has everyone that's ever stayed there," Webb says. "As far as 'haunted?' I'm not quite sure." Webb explains that he frequently had unexplained experiences, including noises made when no one else was around.” He also has had strange dreams in the home and these strange dreams and the faces in them were the inspiration of many of the featured paintings.”
Thanks to Sandy C for the suggestion!
The above image is by Christopher Busta-Peck “A view of the Hannes Tiedemann House at 4308 Franklin Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio. The structure, built in 1881, was designed by Cudell and Richardson, architects. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license.