Wednesday, 5 October 2011

CLEVELAND`S NOTORIOUS FRANKLIN CASTLE SOLD FOR HOUSE CONVERSION

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The historic Franklin Castle in Ohio City has been haunted in recent years by unfulfilled dreams and unfinished renovation. An exorcism may be imminent.

The Toronto-based owner of the property, Michelle Heimberger, sold the property last month to Oh Dear! Productions for $260,000.

Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman says the 19th century gothic-style castle would be divided into two residential units in the main house and another in the carriage house on the property.

Cleveland architect Robert Maschke has been instrumental in the deal, he said, working with Heimberger and with the buyer, a European tapestry artist named Chiara Dona dalle Rose.

Mashke represented the seller before the city's board of zoning appeals, which approved plans for multi-family development. Neighbors also gave their blessing.

"I can't believe it's going to be a house again," Cimperman said. "This has been such a nightmare. There was a fire. There were squatters. And now it's not going to be a vacant structure. There's going to be new neighbors."

Heimberger bought the castle and carriage house for $350,000 in 1999 and was renovating the place to turn it into a B&B before arson destroyed her plans and the economy torpedoed any comeback effort.

Charles Milsaps came in with grand ideas and a promise to buy the house. He had been living in the carriage house and wanted to turn the castle into an upscale club. Then he was pitching a reality TV show combining renovation with ghost hunting.

He was removed from the picture last year.

Source: The Plains Dealer

I have personally visited the house from the exterior only as I understood the then owner was opening the house for paranormal visits. The real tragedy is that this house and many others I saw from the Civil War period of American history, were in such a run down and dilapidated condition.
And I never got to go inside!

Haunted History
The house was built in 1865 by architects Cudell & Richardson for Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant. On January 16, 1881, Tiedemann's fifteen-year-old daughter Emma succumbed to diabetes. The house saw its second death not long afterwards when Tiedemann's elderly mother, Wiebeka, died. During the next three years the Tiedemanns would bury three more children, giving rise to speculation that there was more to the deaths than met the eye.

To distract his wife, Luise, from these tragedies, Tiedemann began extensive construction on the home, adding a ballroom which runs the length of the house in the fourth floor of the manor. Also during this building, turrets and gargoyles were added to the edifice's facade, giving the house an even more pronounced "castle" appearance.

It is rumored that there were hidden rooms and passageways that were used for bootlegging during Prohibition. Though rumored, none of these rooms or passageways exist other than a small stairway used by servants from the kitchen to the front door.

Luise Tiedemann died from a liver disease on March 24, 1895, at the age of fifty-seven. Hannes sold the house to the Mullhauser family, and by 1908 he and the entire Tiedemann family were dead, leaving no one to inherit his considerable personal wealth.

Rumors of crimes committed in the house by Tiedemann (including sexual indiscretions and murder) have contributed to Franklin Castle's reputation as a haunted house.

In January of 1968, James Romano, his wife, and six children moved into the house. Mrs. Romano had always been fascinated with the mansion and planned to open a restaurant there, but she quickly changed her mind. On the very day that the family moved in, she sent her children upstairs to play. A little while later, they came back downstairs and asked if they could have a cookie for their new friend, a little girl who was upstairs crying. Mrs. Romano followed the children back upstairs, but found no little girl. This happened a number of times, leading many to wonder if the "ghost children" might be the spirits of the Tiedemann children who died in the early 1880's.
Mrs. Romano also reported hearing organ music in the house, even though no organ was there and sounds of footsteps tramping up and down the hallways. She also heard voices and the sound of glass clinking on the third floor, even though no one else was in the house. The Romano’s finally consulted a Catholic priest about the house. He declined to do an exorcism of the place, but told them that he sensed an evil presence in the house and that they should leave. 

The family then turned to the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society, a now defunct ghost-hunting group, and they sent out a team to investigate Franklin Castle. In the middle of the investigation, one of the team members fled the building in terror. 

By September of 1974, the Romano’s had finally had enough. They sold the castle to Sam Muscatello, who planned to turn the place into a church, but instead, after learning of the building's shady past, started offering guided tours of the house. He also had problems with ghostly visitors in the mansion encountering strange sounds, vanishing objects and the eerie woman in black. 

He invited Cleveland radio executive John Webster to the house for an on-air special about hauntings and Franklin Castle. Webster claimed that while walking up a staircase, something tore a tape recorder from a strap over his shoulder and flung it down the stairs. "I was climbing the stairs with a large tape recorder strapped over my shoulder," Webster later recalled and then told how the device was pulled away from him. "I just stood there holding the microphone as I watched the tape recorder go flying down to the bottom of the stairs, where it broke into pieces." 

A television reporter named Ted Ocepec, who also came to visit the castle, witnessed a hanging ceiling light that suddenly began turning in circular motions. He was also convinced that something supernatural lurked in the house. Someone suggested that perhaps traffic vibrations on the street outside had caused the movement of the light. Ocepec didn’t think so. "I just don’t know," he said, "but there’s something in that house." 

Muscatello's interest in the history of the house led him to start searching for the secret panels and passages installed by the Tiedemann's. It was he who made the gruesome discovery of the skeleton behind the panel in the tower room. This discovery apparently had a strange effect on Muscatello as he started becoming sick and lost over thirty pounds in a few weeks. He was never very successful at turning the place into a tourist attraction and eventually sold the place to a doctor, who in turn sold the house for the same amount to Cleveland Police Chief Richard Hongisto. 

The police chief and his wife declared that the spacious mansion would make the perfect place in which to live but then, less than one year later, abruptly sold the house to George Mirceta, who was unaware of the house’s haunted reputation. He had bought the castle merely for its solid construction and Gothic architecture. He lived alone in the house and also conducted tours of the place, asking visitors to record any of their strange experiences in a guest book before leaving. Some reported seeing a woman in white, babies crying and lights swinging back and forth. One women even complained of feeling like she was being choked in the tower room. Strangely, she had no idea of the legend concerning that room and the death of Tiedemann’s mistress. 

Even though he had a number of strange experiences while living there, Mirceta maintained that the castle was not haunted. If it was, he told reporters, he would be too scared to live there. "There has to be a logical explanation for everything," he told an interviewer.
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