Franklin Castle: The Most Haunted Home in Ohio

| © Tim Evanson / Flickr
Laura Dorwart

Franklin Castle, a Victorian home on Franklin Avenue in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, has gained widespread notoriety as “the most haunted home in Ohio.” Learn about Franklin Castle’s eerie, tragic origins and the ghosts claimed to inhabit it.

On the west side of Cleveland in the neighborhood of Ohio City, Franklin Castle’s turrets, shadowy red-lined windows, creepy gargoyles, stone walls, and ominous six-foot iron gate make it stand out among its neighbors. The third floor was once a grand ballroom. Built in the 1880s by Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant, grocer, and investment banker with a troubled history, Franklin Castle is haunted by rumors, lingering tragedy, and, many claim, menacing ghosts.

Hannes Tiedemann was beset by rumors since he first built Franklin Castle. After founding the Euclid Avenue Savings and Trust, he used his fortune to hire a prestigious architectural firm to design his residence. Tiedemann moved in with his mother, wife, and three children, who were quickly hounded by tragedy. His mother, Wiebeka, died in 1891, followed shortly thereafter by his young daughter Emma. Though Emma apparently died of diabetes, rumors swirled that Tiedemann was responsible, aided by his own reputation as cold and something of a brute.

After Tiedemann’s wife’s death from liver disease in 1895, he quickly remarried, spurring rumors that he had murdered her in a rage. He was also accused of hanging his own (allegedly) mentally ill niece in the house and of killing his mistress, a servant girl named Rachel, his other children, and his illegitimate daughter.

After Tiedemann sold the house and later died himself of a stroke, Franklin Castle was sold to the German Socialist Party. Speculation abounded that the house was chosen for its many secret passageways, where Nazis used it for medical experimentation and spy activities.

Franklin Castle was subsequently sold to countless new families; struck by an arsonist once, it was resold quickly by every family or individual who moved in. They claimed to see a little girl haunting the third floor, a woman in black on the top floor, and a ghostly figure in white on the stairway. Rumors of power outages and strange noises surged.

Human bones believed to be baby skeletons (medical specimens used by a doctor who once lived there, replicas planted by an owner looking to sell the house as a ghost tour stop, or worse?) were found hidden in a corner of the house in the 1970s, and crying is said to be heard in every hallway.

Franklin Castle is one of Cleveland’s most popular attractions, inspiring features on local news stations and in documentaries, assessments by paranormal experts and ghost hunters, multiple books, and even a seasonal spiced ale by Cleveland-based Market Garden Brewery. The home is privately owned and not open to the public, though it remains a frequent spot for photo ops on walking ghost tours of Cleveland.

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