Franklin Castle has too many turrets, too-pronounced of an iron gate, and too much history not to be haunted. Or at least that’s what generations of Clevelanders would tell you.
The High Victorian home has been a fixture of the city’s west side for over a hundred years. It was built in the 1880s by grocer-turned-banker Hannes Tiedemann. Although his wealth was significant, Tiedemann’s life was marred by tragedy. A distressing number of his immediate family members would die in this house, including his 15-year-old daughter, his mother, and three additional children, who died in infancy.
The story goes that the construction of the castle’s elaborate turrets, prominent gargoyles, and increasingly large network of rooms were an attempt to distract his wife from the ceaseless barrage of death. That is, until she too suddenly passed away.
After Tiedemann sold the property, it spent several decades as a German cultural center. The tales of haunting picked up in the 1960s, as reports of surging electricity, the sound of babies crying, and a mysterious woman in black gained steam. Human bones were found in a closet in 1975, but the leading theory there is that they were planted by the new owner, who was looking to put the place on the map. (He started offering ghost tours of the property soon after.)
As the years have gone by, tales of Franklin Castle have grown more numerous and fantastical, and now include an axe murder, a mass shooting of Nazis in the basement, and the alleged hanging death of Heidemann’s illegitimate daughter. Many stories focus on heinous acts that supposedly took place in tunnels below the house, which seem unlikely as there are, in fact, no tunnels under the house.
Franklin Castle has changed owners many times in recent years, including a stint as the home of Michael DeVinko, known better under his stage name Mickey Deans and as the last husband of actress Judy Garland. After a fire, it laid abandoned for several years, before the current owners purchased the place in 2011.
Know Before You Go
Franklin Castle is privately owned, but can be viewed from the sidewalk on Franklin Boulevard.