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Franklin Castle Cleveland | History Ghosts & Judy Garland

Franklin Castle is the beautiful house in Cleveland is considered one of Ohio’s most notoriously haunted.  A family’s death curse leads to many legends.  And ghosts remain as a reminder of the family’s challenges.

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Hannes | Judy Garland| Ghost

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Dark History and Ghost Stories

by Ghost Guide Daniel – – This place is so amazing, that even a government website like calls Cleveland’s Franklin Castle, I quote,

“One of Ohio’s most notorious buildings, and a landmark for its haunted history.”


Many reports of ghostly activity.  Including the usual suspects of flickering lights and slamming doors.  And a bit stranger are the sounds of a crying girl.  Along with, of course, its resident ghost, who they call, ‘the woman in black’.

Construction started in 1881 and was completed in 1883.  All while the family lived inside, watching over their home.  Two years of work poured into an impressive structure by an architecture firm known for some of Cleveland’s nicest business buildings and churches.

Stepping away from them for a moment, to throw together a beautiful house.  Built for a German immigrant banker named Hannes Tiedemann.

The Tiedemann House as it was originally called (makes sense) is located at 4308 Franklin Boulevard (makes sense too). 

Hannes Tiedemann

Hannes lost his father at a young age.  Only 13-years-old when the family, led by his mother Wiebeka, along with two brothers and four sisters, found their way from Germany to New York City in 1848. 

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Hannes, Luise and August Tiedemann 
Hannes, Luise and August Tiedemann 

Eventually settling in Ohio.  Hannes started as an apprentice barrel maker.  Five years later he ended up in Cleveland working as a wholesale grocer.  Eventually started a grocer business with his friend.  And then sold all his interests in 1871. 

During his transition into banking, he met and fell in love with Luise.  Then in 1883, he founded the Savings & Trust Co, serving as its Vice President.  Leading to him to starting the Union Banking and Savings Co., where he remained until retiring in 1907.

Death in Franklin Castle

Did you know this family was cursed?  Right off the bat family members started dying.  In 1881, Hannes and Luise’s fifteen-year-old daughter Emma died from diabetes.  Only months later, Tiedemann’s elderly mother, Wiebeka, also died.

Are you thinking, “Oh, Daniel, it’s just what happened back in those days.”  Well, what about the three kids who died over only three years.

A curse?  Maybe, if you consider out of the six kids, only two survived into adulthood.  Wihelmine, Ernst and Albert all died as babies and Emma at 15 years.

Two kids lived on.  This was August and Dora.  August died in April of 1906.  And strangely, Dora only lived a few months longer, dying in December of 1906.

It’s said as a distraction from all the death, Hannes added on to the house.  Giving himself a project, and disrupting the pain for his wife, Luise.

Included a ballroom for lavish parties added to most of the fourth floor.  So, if you can get up there, you can party.

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Fourth Floor Plan of House
Fourth Floor Plan of House

And he turned the house into a real castle.  Adding on the turrets (old timey towers you see on all spooky houses), along with disfigured gargoyles to look down on guests entering the house.

His wife enjoyed it for 14 years, before dying in 1895 at 57-years-old. 

After losing his wife, Hannes may have lost his desire for Franklin Castle.  Only one year later it was sold off to the Mullhauser family.

He eventually remarried a waitress named Henrietta.  Surprisingly (sarcasm), the marriage ended in divorce only one year later. 

No Tiedemann’s Left

By 1908, all the Tiedemann’s are gone.  Remaining kids Dora and August dying in 1906.  Now at 75 years old, Hannes had to witness his mother, wife and all six kids die. 

On a sunny Wednesday, January 22nd of 1908, he took a walk in a park.  And dropped dead on the path from a massive stroke. 

Franklin Castle Goes On

Lots of owners passed through Franklin Castle.  With many occupants comes rumors.  From use by a local Bootlegger during Prohibition. 

To supposed Nazi’s hiding out during WWII.  This strange story adds to the legend of the house.  Saying the Nazi’s were found, and twenty of them executed in the basement. 

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Oldest known drawing of the house
Oldest known drawing of the house

Not that it needs to be said, but this is false.  Nazi spies didn’t live in the house.  However, the connection happened because anti-fascist German communists used the turret to broadcast a short-wave radio.  Also, the house once held the largest German socialist library in the United States.

Emma Tiedemann’s Spirit

In 1968, James Romano bought Franklin Castle for his family.  His wife loved the old house and dreamed of turning it into a restaurant. 

During renovations, the house acted up.  Including the Romano kids coming down one afternoon to ask for cookies. 

“And give us an extra one for the sad girl upstairs.”

Mrs. Romano was confused.  She went upstairs with them to find no other kids.  This is believed to be the ghost of Emma, the Tiedemann girl who died from diabetes.

Emma wasn’t the only time the ghosts focused on Mrs. Romano.  She was plagued by sightings.  Starting from the corner of her eye, a dark figure that scurried out of site.  Later reporting a full apparition of a woman wearing a black dress.

She is a mainstay ghost for so many experiences.  A Tiedemann family maid now considered the house’s resident ghost.  More about her in a bit.

The Romano’s tried everything to get accustomed to Franklin Castle.  Even inviting local paranormal groups to investigate.

Still, the house remained tense to them.  Leading to James bringing in a priest to perform an exorcism.  The priest telling them about the “evil spirits”, and suggesting they leave for good.  They agreed, and moved out in 1974.

Leaning into the Ghost Tourism

The haunting reputation continued with Sam Muscatello.  He bought the house with plans to turn it into a church.  Then realizing the ghostly legends don’t go well with the parishioner’s calm.

Instead, he opened the house as a tourist attraction.  Inviting people to spend the night in a haunted mansion. 

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Opened as Tourist Attraction from 1968 to 1974
Opened as Tourist Attraction from 1968 to 1974

Maybe some of the legends came from Muscatello’s wanting promotion.  Who knows!?!

Going against this theory is a story of Sam exploring the house.  Coming through a passageway, he found human bones.  Then sharing the story with all the local newspapers. 

Many folks believed he put bones in there himself.  The old ‘free promo game’. 

However, recently, the story has been proven true.  The bones were real and may have come from the Monroe Street Cemetery.  Connected to when Hannes had his three kid’s moved from Monroe to the family plot in Riverside. 

Or, maybe left from when a doctor owned the house.

Judy Garland’s Husband

In 1985, a fellow named Michael DeVinko bought the house.  Pouring massive amounts of money into restoration.

DeVinko was a performer with the stage name, Mickey Deans.  Very much known for being Judy Garland’s last husband. 

You know Judy Garland, right?  For the kids out there, she was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

He married Garland in March of 1969.  Hundreds were invited to see the 47-year-old Judy get hitched to the 12 years her junior, Deans.  But only fifty people bothered showing up. 

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Mickey Deans & Judy Garland
Michael DeVinko & Judy Garland

Even Garland’s own daughter, Liza Minelli, declined the invite.  Saying, “I can’t make it Mamma, but I promise I’ll come to the next one.” 

This was Garland’s 5th marriage, having divorced her last husband, Mark Herron, that same year.

A friend of Garland’s, production assistant Rosalyn Wilder, attended the wedding.  When asked to describe Deans, she said,

“… a dreadful man.  I mean if she put an advert in the newspaper for the most unsuitable person to take care of her, she would not have had a better response.  I don’t know what possessed… well, I know what possessed her because he gave in to her and fed all the things she wanted.”

Rosalyn Wilder

1969 turned out to be a very busy year for Garland. On June 22, only three months after marrying Deans, he found her dead of “accidental barbiturate overdose”, also known as taking way too many pills.

Woman in Black

A main resident ghost of the house is the “woman in black”.  Not connected to known history, it’s said she was the family’s maid. A woman named Rachel. 

Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America - Abandoned and saved
Abandoned and Saved

Connected to the darker rumors of Hannes Tiedemann.  How the philandering man constantly stepped out on Luise.  Cheating with other women, and maybe even having a secret kid during their marriage.

The maid wasn’t free of his advances.  Confronted by Hannes in the halls of Franklin Castle.  Turning him away at every turn.

This was said to make Hannes angry.  Leading to a confrontation in the “tower room”, a space at the top of the house’s turret.

He snuck up behind Rachel, wrapped his hands around her throat and squeezed the life of the woman.

This is why many guests of the old house have said they can’t breathe when in that room.  As if being choked.

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