Franklin Castle, an ominous Victorian-style manor in Cleveland, Ohio, is rich with history, tragedy, and some believe a never-ending supply of spirts (the ghostly kind, not the liquid kind). Legends surrounding the castle tell stories of a dark, sinister past filled with sex, scandal, murder, and even espionage, all of which allegedly contribute to the spooky happenings that continue to plague the home even in the present day. Regardless of what’s fact or fiction, one thing is for sure – Franklin Castle got its title as “the most haunted house in Ohio” for a reason. Here is an in-depth look at the history of Franklin Castle Ohio, the mysterious deaths that took place there, and the legends about the property that are both fascinating, and terrifying.
Where Is Franklin Castle in Ohio?
Franklin Castle is located at 4308 Franklin Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44113.
Franklin Castle Cleveland
Named after the road for which it was built on (Franklin Boulevard), Franklin Castle, also sometimes referred to as Tiedemann House, was built in 1864 by the architectural firm Cudell Richardson for a wealthy German immigrant by the name of Hannes Tiedemann. Hannes had the 4-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom home built for his family; Tiedemann’s wife Louise, their 3 children, and his mother.
Around the late 1800s to early 1900s, extensive structural changes were made to the home by Tiedmann, including the addition of a ballroom, windowed turrets, and gargoyles on the home’s exterior. By the time Tiedmann’s additions had been completed, the four-story castle featured 6,356 square feet of space and over 20 rooms.
Interior images are few and far between, but below is a shot from inside the home in the mid-1970s. WKYC Studios also got some exclusive images from inside – those can be seen here.
Franklin Castle Floor Plan
It’s important to remember that Franklin Castle has undergone extensive renovations since originally being built in the 1800s. Despite thorough research, it seems that there are no up-to-date floor plans publicly available for the castle as it is today. So, instead of showing you what the layout is like now, we’re giving you the floor plan as it was prior to the updated construction.
The Main Level: Making your way through the formal entrance to the house, you are greeted by the entrance hall. Immediately to the left sits the stairs that lead to the upper levels of the home, and past this is the entrance to the ballroom as well as the pantry. On the immediate right of the entrance hall is the door to the parlor, next to this is the music room, and then finally the dining room on the far right of the hall, which leads into the breakfast room, kitchen, head servant’s room, and the stairs that lead to the lower level. Off the kitchen is a storage room as well.
The Second Floor: Going up the stairs from the entrance hall to the second level, you will find a bedroom to the right (with a private balcony), and across from that sits the master bedroom on the tower section of the house that overlooks the street. Attached to the master is a bathroom, which is shared with one of the other bedrooms. More bedrooms of varying sizes line the right side of the hall and two additional bedrooms can be found at the end. On the left of the hall sits the entrance to the bandstand above the ballroom, beyond that is another bathroom, and beyond this is the stairs that take you to the third floor.
The Third Floor: Taking the stairs to the third floor, you will immediately be standing in what was once the library. To the direct left of the stairs is the bathroom, and on the opposite side of the library are three more bedrooms and another shared bathroom.
The Basement: In the basement, accessed by the stairs near the head servant’s room on the main floor, there is a senior servant’s room (with a private bathroom), and a servant’s secondary kitchen on the left. Directly across from the stairs is the servant’s dining room, and along the same wall are four separate servant’s quarters. Directly to the right of the stairs are two bathrooms positioned side-by-side, and deeper into the basement is the servant’s common room. To the right of the common room is a large storage area and off the storage is the laundry room, a workshop, and a utility room.
Franklin Castle Story
As previously mentioned, Hannes Tiedemann built and resided at Franklin Castle with his wife, their three children, and his mother after the castle’s construction 1864 by a well-respected architectural firm of the time. The home would see its first death in 1891, when the Tiedemann’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma Tiedemann, died due to complications from diabetes. A few weeks after Emma’s death, Hanne’s mother, Wiebeka, would also pass away in the home. Three additional Tiedemann children also died at the manor. Finally, Hanne’s wife, Louise Tiedemann, would succumb to liver disease and pass away at the residence on March 24, 1895. Franklin Castle was sold a year after Louise’s death to the Mullhauser family, and Hannes Tiedemann would pass away himself, of a stroke, in 1908.
Franklin Castle Murder Rumors
On the surface, these deaths seemed nothing more than a series of tragic events that struck the unfortunate residents of this haunted castle in Ohio at the time; until speculation began to arise that perhaps the deaths that occurred were not of natural causes, but something more sinister. Despite Emma’s death being attributed to diabetes, there are rumors that this was a cover-up for her actual cause of death; hanging – from the rafters of the attic.
Additionally, the cause of death for the three other Tiedemann children was never identified, nor was the death of Hanne’s mother. It is also believed that other children were born and died in the home, but Hannes kept their fates a secret, only adding to the growing theory that Hannes himself was actually murdering members of his family. It was even rumored that Hannes may have been behind the death of his wife since he married a younger woman only a year after her passing. He was also accused of murdering his niece (believed to have been hung in one of the secret tunnels under the home), the strangulation of a mistress, and the murder of a young servant with whom he had been carrying on an affair with. As far as legends go, it’s said that Hannes actually murdered the servant girl on her wedding day.
Franklin Castle Tours
Though this haunted Ohio home is privately owned and not open to the public, there are occasional tours held by Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours that pass Franklin Castle during their guided bus tours of famous haunted locations in Cleveland.
Franklin Castle Ghost
The Franklin haunted house Cleveland Ohio is believed to have quite a few spirits wandering within its walls, including some of the Tiedemann family members that once lived and eventually died on the property. Former residents of Franklin Castle, as well as visitors of the manor, have reported everything from ghostly footsteps, disembodied screams throughout the halls, the sound of a baby crying, and full-bodied apparitions – one of which being a woman wearing a black gown that has a pension for staring out the tower window (anybody reminded of “The Woman in Black” movie right now? Yeah, creepsville here we come!).
Cleveland Ghost Tours
Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours hold both walking tours as well as guided bus tours that feature some of the most haunted hotspots in the city of Cleveland Ohio.
Tickets range between $54 to $60 each, but tour routes and times vary so it’s important you check their site for further details. If you’re interested in the deranged parts of Cleveland, you won’t be disappointed.
Franklin Castle After the Tiedemann Family
The Mullhauser family, who bought the home from Hannes Tiedemann, would remain the owners of Franklin Castle for around two and a half decades before finally selling the manor to the German Socialist Party, who was thought to have used the residence as a German culture center between 1921-1968; however, the actual function of the home was never quite fully known, leaving some to suspect it may have been a secret meeting place for German spies and that assassinations took place at the home during this time. It’s also rumored that a doctor, who is believed to have rented a room within the castle, was conducting unusual experiments with human specimens inside the residence.
There was also allegedly an old still discovered in one of the castle’s secret rooms, making some theorize that the place was once used as a speakeasy during Prohibition and that one of the tunnels underground was used to move alcohol out of the home.
By 1968, the Romano family took possession of the property and almost immediately report experiencing strange activity with such severity that they even attempted to have the home exorcised, but the catholic priest that visited the home reportedly became deeply troubled by the paranormal occurrences that he witnessed and refused to do the exorcism – instead advising the family to move since he believed there to be an evil presence in the castle. The Romano family would later sell the home to a man by the name of Sam Muscatello in 1974. Muscatello began holding ghost tours at the residence, with future plans of turning the building into a church. In 1975, he claimed to have found human bones in one of the home’s closets; but the bones were never confirmed to be real and many felt this was a publicity stunt by Muscatello to attract more visitors.
Finally, Michael DeVinko, an entrepreneur and the 5th and final husband of actress Judy Garland, purchased the property and went on to spend the next decade making massive renovations to the castle, spending around $1 million to fix the place up. DeVinko used the manor for parties until eventually selling it in 1994.
Who owns Franklin Castle now?
In the present day, the castle-like residence stands as a historical landmark and the Cleveland headquarters for Oh Dear! Productions, a foreign limited liability company that purchased the property for $260,000 in 2011.
Most Haunted Places in Ohio
Though Franklin castle is considered one of the most haunted locations in the state of Ohio, there are many other places there that come in at a close second in The Buckeye State – here are some noteworthy locations in Ohio that are believed to house some ghostly residents of past.
Once a property owned by Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, the Sedamsville rectory, located in Sedamsville Ohio, is believed to be haunted by an evil, and some speculate demonic, spirit. The building was even featured on the Travel Channel series Ghost Adventures because of its notorious hauntings. Visitors of the rectory have reported hearing disembodied voices, feeling cold spots, and seeing doors close and open on their own as well as witnessing the apparition of a young boy wearing a noose around his neck. As if this wasn’t scary enough, people have also been shoved and scratched by an unknown force on the premises.
Ohio State Reformatory
Located in Mansfield, Ohio, the Ohio State Reformatory was opened originally as a prison around 1890 and remained opened until the facility was forced to close its doors in 1972. In the span that it was active, however, Ohio State Reformatory was the site of numerous deaths due to disease caused by severe overcrowding, suicides by hanging, and murders. Tours of the old penitentiary are available for a price – but visitors beware! The spirits that still remain inside the walls of this former prison are far from welcoming; in fact, people that have visited the reformatory have reported being shoved, struck, and hearing cell doors slam.
If you want to get an inside look at the prison without the risk of running into one of its former residents, you can always watch The Shawshank Redemption (1994), which was primarily filmed on-site at the building.
Now known as The Ridges, this Ohio University was formally the site of the Athens Lunatic Asylum and once partially acted as a tuberculosis ward. The facility once housed Civil War vets, children, seniors, and the homeless. The asylum provided “treatments” to its patients that often involved the use of psychotropic drugs and lobotomies. Anything from masturbation, to “menstrual derangement”, to even mild alcoholism could earn you a stay at Athens Lunatic Asylum in those days, and many who found themselves residents of the asylum were often never the same due to the neglect and cruel & unusual treatment they were subjected to there. Some even died at the facility and were buried in one of three graveyards on the property if they were unclaimed by family after death.
To make matters worse, and even more tragic, the headstones for these poor souls were not even properly marked with the deceased’s name but instead labeled with a number. Disembodied screams, voices, and apparitions have all been witnessed at The Ridge in the present day, and many believe these could be from the patients that never left Athens Asylum, even in death.