Franklin Castle–The Most Haunted House in Ohio

Is it too late for Halloween stories? I think not.

When I first moved back to Ohio, my sister drove me by a spooky old house in the Cleveland neighborhood of Ohio City. Its stone walls, turrets, gargoyles and wrought iron fence immediately brought to mind every horror movie I’d ever seen. The boarded up windows did little to keep my imagination from envisioning the spirits within.franklin-castle-ghost


Hannes Tiedemann

The High Victorian Eclectic style mansion was originally built in 1881 for Hannes Teidemann, a German immigrant who made a fortune from crafting barrels and then later in the banking business. The massive home was designed by the architectural firm of Cuddle and Richardson. The house has 21 different rooms, a ballroom taking up the entire fourth floor, and numerous hidden passages, dumb waiters and various staircases used by the residents and their servants. In 1881, Ohio City was one of the most upscale neighborhoods in the Cleveland area.

This grand, imposing house seems to have never had a happy existence, however. Mr. Tiedemann and his wife, Louisa, had three babies succumb to death in the house. Louisa herself died here from liver trouble, and a 15-year old daughter died from diabetes, as well as Hannes’ mother. Rumors abound about the original owner, and sorting out fact from fiction has become a favorite pastime of the residents of Ohio City. Hannes was reportedly not the most faithful of husbands, and one of his numerous liaisons resulted in an illegitimate daughter named Karen, who ended up living in the house, probably as one of the servants’ children. When Karen was thirteen, she got into a verbal argument with Hannes, which escalated to the point where he killed her and then hung her body to make her death appear self-inflicted. Another story says Karen was a niece, which is not nearly as salacious.

The ghost of Karen appears vaguely in this image

The ghost of Karen appears vaguely in this image

Another juicy tidbit involves Hannes’ advances toward one of the servant girls. When he discovered she was to marry someone else, he confronted her in the servants’ quarters as she was preparing for the wedding ceremony and killed her with an axe. He also shot his mistress, Rachel, when she revealed she wanted to marry someone else. The sounds of her dying are supposedly heard to this day.

Since Hannes Tiedemann’s departure from the home in 1895, shortly after the death of his wife, this home has had many turnovers in owners, but no one ever stays for long. The house has, at various times, been a clubhouse for a German Singing Society, home to a German socialist organization, a speakeasy, a church and, for a time, was cut up into apartments. Each time it is purchased, the owners have had bad luck getting their enterprises underway. Fires have been set, destroying the carriage house and parts of the building, and its value has decreased with each sale.

In the 1970s, one of the owners found the skeletons of numerous babies in a small sealed room in the house, after one of its many residents, a doctor, hid his experiments gone awry. Also, there is a rumor that a mass political assassination occurred during the World War II. Over the years, various owners have attempted exorcisms and have even had the home inspected by a now defunct ghost-hunting group.


One of the many staircases in the castle

Apparitions of young children and women, spinning chandeliers, doors opening and shutting of their own volition, voices coming from the hidden passages behind the walls, cold spots and orbs had been reported over the years.

Orbs can be seen at the bottom of this stairway

Orbs can be seen at the bottom of this stairway

Hannes_Tiedemann_House_Cleveland_OhioThe home was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 15, 1982, yet today it still remains a boarded-up relic of Cleveland’s illustrious past.