Monday, March 21, 2016


The Story of the Hartford Castle

On the night of March 21, 1973, the sound of sirens filled the air along New Poag Road, not far from Alton and Wood River, Illinois. By the time the fire engines reached the house once known as the “Hartford Castle,” though, it was much too late. What time and vandals had not been able to destroy, flames finally did. A house that was once connected to local tales of death, Prohibition booze, and ghosts was gone, leaving only a legend behind.   

Lakeview, as the Hartford Castle was officially known, was constructed by a French immigrant named Benjamin Biszant in 1897. The castle-like house with the red-capped turrets was incredibly expensive, although the source of Biszant's wealth remains unknown. Most believe that he may have been an insurance executive, a contractor or an investor of some sort. Whatever his profession, he purchased a large section of land near Hartford and began construction on what was to be a "dream house" for his English bride.

 Hartford Castle during its glory days

Teams of workers with horses were brought in and a moat was excavated around what would be the home site. The soil that was removed from it formed a rise on which Lakeview was built. When the house was completed, it boasted turrets that loomed high above the surrounding countryside, and 14 rooms. The floors were made of imported cypress wood and the ceilings supported by hand-carved columns. Crystal chandeliers were used in mirror-lined main hall and music could often be heard drifting out over the fields in the evening. The landscaped gardens were decorated with gazebos and statuary and Biszant scattered his own concrete creations of animals and cannons about the grounds. A stone bridge was built to reach an island in the middle of one of the small lakes that adjoined the moat and the lakes were used for boating and swimming. Biszant stocked them with goldfish.

Tragically, though, Biszant's wife died in the early 1900s and he returned her body to England. After that, he lost interest in the castle, and sold it before moving to California. Not long after, the ghost stories that became attached to the place began to be told. According to these tales, the lingering spirit was that of the Frenchman's wife, still haunting the place that she loved most in life. The ghost stories became a part of the house and they continued to be heard for years after, through various owners and even now, long after the house has been destroyed.

The castle passed through the hands of several owners after Biszant sold it and was rumored to have been used at one time as a boy's military school and later as a home for unwed mothers. Neither of these uses were ever verified. In the early 1920s, it was turned into a resort and during this period was believed to have been operated for a time as a speakeasy. The house was not far enough off the main roads that it could not be found and yet was secluded enough that the party-goers and gangsters who flocked to the place were not bothered. If the speakeasy stories were true, those days did not last long, and the resort was later closed down.

Shortly after, the castle was purchased by a couple from Wood River and they lived in the house until 1964. Soon after they moved in, they began to have problems with intruders and trespassers. The castle seemed to be viewed by the public as community property, or a park, and the owners stated that people would often just roam through the 35 acres at all hours of the day and night. Some even broke into the house and wandered from room to room, as if on a tour. The grounds were apparently too attractive, with the landscaped gardens and statuary, for people to stay away. And like the gangsters of times past, teenagers often congregated in secluded spots on the estate for clandestine beer parties or searched out the best place to serve as a "lover's lane." Hoping to counteract this invasion of privacy, the family opened the grounds to the public on weekends for several years but, eventually, this practice ended and the property was again closed down.

In 1964, the owner died and his wife moved back into Wood River. There were attempts to rent the house after that, hoping that someone would just remain on the grounds to protect it from vandalism, but this plan fell through and maintenance on the house and property ended with the owner's death. The estate began crumbling into ruin and the lawn became thick and overgrown. By 1971, the house had fallen into disrepair and was showing signs of damage from thieves and vandals. The cruelest blow came the following year when intruders gutted the residence, ripped mantels from the fireplaces, broke windows, and using a small telephone pole as a battering ram, smashed huge holes in the plaster walls. The senseless and stupid destruction led to the house being officially condemned by county inspectors.

The final blow was dealt to the castle on March 21, 1973, when it burned to the ground. An alarm was sounded but by the time that firefighters arrived on the scene, only a tall chimney and burning embers remained of the once grand mansion.

The remains of an old gazebo on the property

The statue of a dog found out in the woods

The site of the former “castle” can still be found in a cluster of thick woods and brambles, just off New Poag Road, on the other side of Hartford. Only those who know of the place would have any clue that the ruins of the estate still remain as broken columns, a few pieces of shattered statuary, and the dim outline of the castle's moat.

This is a place that has been truly lost by time and one that, according to legend, remains haunted by the Frenchman's wife, even today. There are those who maintain that her spectral form can still be seen wandering through the remains of the estate and that her voice can still be heard as she weeps for the life and the wonderful home that she lost. Others insist that old-time music can still sometimes be heard as well. They say that it floats through the trees and above the fields on summer nights when the crops are tall and when sound seems to carry for miles. Perhaps in another time and place, Lakeview still stands and the party still continues, beckoning to all of us from a distant memory that is now long since forgotten.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


History & Mystery of the Millstadt Ax Murders

The small town of Millstadt is located just a few miles from Belleville, a long-established and prosperous town that is located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Millstadt has always been known as a quiet community. It was settled long ago by German immigrants who came to America to work hard, be industrious, and keep to themselves. It was a place where nothing bad could ever really happen – or at least that’s what the residents there in the latter part of the nineteenth century believed. However, the murders that occurred on Saxtown Road forever shattered that illusion. When a local German family was brutally slaughtered in 1874, it created a dark, unsolved mystery – and a haunting that continues today. 

On March 19, 1874, Carl Stelzenreide, age 70, his son, Frederick, 35, Frederick’s wife, Anna, 28, and their children, Carl, 3, and Anna, 8 months, were found brutally murdered in their home on Saxton Road, located outside of Millstadt. The grisly crime was discovered by a neighbor, Benjamin Schneider, who had arrived at the Stelzenreide home early that morning to collect some potato seeds from Carl Steltzenreide. As he approached the home, he found that the area was eerily still. The horses and cattle that were fenced in the front lot had not been watered or fed and no one was taking care of the morning chores.

Schneider knocked on the front door, but no one answered. He called out and looked in the window, but it was too dark inside the house for him to see anything. Finally, he turned the knob and pushed the door open. As he stepped in, he looked down and saw the body of Frederick Steltzenreide on the floor, lying in a large pool of blood. The young man had been savagely beaten and his throat had been cut. Three of his fingers had been severed. Panicked, Schneider began looking for the other members of the family. He found Anna and her children lying on a bed. All of them had been bludgeoned to death and Anna’s throat had been cut. Her infant daughter, baby Anna, was lying across her chest, her small arms wrapped around her mother’s neck. Her son, Carl, was found next to her. His facial features were unrecognizable because of the brutal blows that he had sustained to his head. All three of them had apparently been murdered as they slept. In a separate bedroom, Schneider found Carl Steltzenreide. He had been struck so many times, apparently with an ax, that he was nearly decapitated. His body was sprawled on the bloodstained floor and it was later surmised that he had been roused from his bed by noises in the house and been struck down as he attempted to come to the aid of his family. 
As Schneider looked frantically around, he realized that blood was on the floor, had sprayed wildly onto the walls, and even stained the ceiling of the house. He saw chips and indentions in the plaster that were later determined to have been made by a “maddox,” a combination tool with the head of an ax and a large blade resembling a garden hoe. 

The only survivor of the carnage was the family dog, Monk. He was found lying on the floor next to Anna’s bed, keeping watch over the bodies of the mother and her children. Monk was known to be very protective of the family, and downright vicious toward strangers. This fact would lead investigators to believe that the killer, or killers, was someone known to the family. They also believed that the killer entered the house through a rear door, killing Anna and the children first. Carl was killed when he heard the struggles in the bedroom and Frederick was killed last. He had been sleeping on a lounge near the front of the house and had been murdered after a hand-to-hand struggle with the murderer.
Schneider quickly left and summoned help. The authorities called to nearby Belleville for assistance and several sheriff’s deputies and detectives answered the call. Soon after arriving, Deputy Sheriff Hughes discovered footsteps leading away from the house. As they were examined, it was noted that the prints had been made by boots that were cobbled with heavy nails, making them very distinctive. Hughes also found indentions in the ground that looked as though they had been made by someone dragging a heavy ax. He followed the tracks for about a mile and at the end of the trail, he found a pouch of partially chewed tobacco that was covered with blood. He deduced that the killer had been wounded during his attack on the family and had attempted to stem the bleeding with chewing tobacco, a popular folk remedy that was believed to draw the infection from a cut. The footprints, and the bloody tobacco pouch, led the police to the home of Frederick Boeltz, the brother-in-law of Frederick Steltzenreide. 

Boeltz was married to Anna Stelzenreide’s sister and there had been a dispute between Boeltz and Frederick Steltzenreide because $200 that Boeltz had borrowed and never repaid. The two had quarreled over the debt several times. Boeltz was friends with an itinerant farm worked named John Afken, who had once worked for the Steltzenreide family and who also harbored a grudge against Frederick. Afken was a large and powerful man who made his living as a “grubber,” a backbreaking occupation that involved clearing trees and rocks from farm lots. He was considered an expert with an ax, as well as other hand tools, and was feared by many because of his quick temper. He also possessed another characteristic that was of interest to the investigators – he had a full head of light red hair.

Carl Steltzenreide had died clutching a handful of hair that was exactly the same color.

 The bodies of the Steltzenreide family were prepared for burial by ladies from the Zion United Church of Christ in Millstadt. This gruesome task was carried out in the Steltzenreide barn, which still stands on the property today. The corpses were in such horrific condition that a number of the women became sick while washing them and had to be relieved. The killer had savaged the bodies so badly with his ax that the adults were nearly decapitated and the children were bloodied and pummeled beyond recognition. It was brutality like nothing these small town folks had ever seen before.

The family was laid to rest on Sunday, March 22, at Frievogel Cemetery, located just a few miles from their home on Saxtown Road. The news of the horror spread across the region in newspaper accounts and even appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The terror and curiosity that gripped the area brought more than 1,000 people to the Stelzenreide’s funeral service.
Immediately after the burial, Deputy Hughes arrested Frederick Boeltz and John Afken on suspicion of murder. Boeltz, initially resisted arrest, but then demanded to be provided with a bible while locked away in the Belleville city jail. Afken, on the other hand, was said to have displayed an uncanny lack of emotion. He accompanied the officers to jail, and remained silent while in custody. During the coroner’s inquest that followed the arrest, Boeltz refused to face the jury and when shown photographs of the victims’ bodies, he refused to look at them. The two men were brought before a grand jury in April 1874, but the jury was unable to indict them. They believed there was insufficient evidence to connect them to the murders. Both suspects were released a week later. 

Although the authorities had been unable to indict their main suspects in the case, the investigation into the two men’s activities and motives did not come to an end. Investigators believed more strongly than ever that Boeltz was somehow involved in the murders and they based this on the fact that the cash and valuables inside of the Steltzenreide house had been undisturbed. They believed there was a motive that was darker than mere robbery for the crime – and that Boeltz was definitely involved.

Just a few days before he was killed, on March 16, Frederick Steltzenreide confided to some friends and neighbors that he had just received a substantial inheritance from relatives in Germany. He was at an auction at the time he broke the news and he was seen carrying a large willow basket that was covered with an oilcloth. Rumor had it that the basket contained the inheritance, which Frederick had collected at the bank just before attending the auction. 
The Steltzenreide estate was reportedly worth several thousand dollars at the time of the murder. Investigators surmised that the wholesale slaughter of the family might have been an attempt to wipe out all of the immediate heirs to the estate. They believed that Frederick Boeltz, motivated by his dislike for Frederick Steltzenreide and his belief that he would inherit the money because of his marriage to Anna’s sister, had hired John Afken to commit the murders. It was a viable theory to explain the massacre, but the police were never able to make it stick.

Boeltz later brought suit against the Steltzenreide estate in an effort to collect whatever money he could. He was eventually awarded $400 and soon after, he and his family moved away from the area and vanished into history.
John Afken remained in the Millstadt area and legend has it that he was often seen carrying a gold pocket watch. When asked where he had gotten such an impressive timepiece, because it seemed much nicer than anything he could afford, Afken would only smile. Some whispered that the pocket watch looked exactly like one that Carl Steltzenreide once owned.

The Steltzenreide home was torn down in August 1954. According to a report that appeared in the Millstadt Enterprise newspaper at the time, the owners of the property, Leslie Jines and his family, were “glad to tuck the tale out of the way with whatever ghosts are there.”  The owners found it easy to get rid of the cursed, old house but the ghosts that lingered there were not so easily dismissed. 

A more recent owner of the property, and a house that stands at the site, was Randy Eckert. In 2004, he told a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he believed the land where the murders took place was haunted. His first experience occurred one morning when he and his wife were awakened by strange noises. They both heard the sounds of doors opening and closing in the house, although nothing was disturbed. They weren’t the only ones to hear something. The family dog, which had been sleeping at the foot of the bed, was also awakened by the mysterious sounds and was terrified and shaking. Eckert added that the sounds were repeated many times over the years, always around the anniversary of the murders.

Chris Nauman, who rented the house from Eckert in the early 1990s, reported his own chilling occurrences: “It was 6 o’clock in the morning, and there was a loud knock on the door. At the same time, my girlfriend heard someone walking up the steps in our basement.” Nauman, startled by the sounds, quickly checked the front door and the basement stairs, but found no sign of visitors or intruders. The next day, he shared his story with Randy Eckert, asking him about the anniversary of the Steltzenreide murders. Eckert confirmed it for him – the ghostly happenings had taken place on March 19, the anniversary of the murders.

Nauman still remembers the effect this had on him, “A cold shiver ran up my spine.”

To this day, the slaughter of the Steltzenreide family remains unsolved. While many suspects have been suggested over the years, there is no clear answer to the mystery. The area where the house once stood along Saxtown Road has changed very little since 1874, and it’s not hard to imagine the sheer terror of those who lived nearby after news of the murders began to spread. It’s a lonely, isolated area and, if the stories are to be believed, a haunted one. 

But what ghosts still walk in this place? Are they the tragic spirits of the Steltzenreides, still mourning the fact that their deaths have never been avenged? Or do the phantom footsteps and spectral knockings signal the presence of the killer’s wicked wraith, perhaps forced to remain here as a penance for the crime that he never answered to while among the living?
We may never really know, but for now, the haunting continues and the people of Millstadt continue to remember the day when horror visited their little town.

Friday, March 18, 2016


The True Story of Franklin Castle

In the middle 1990s, when I began writing about ghosts and hauntings across the Midwest, there was one house that I was frequently referred to by people in Ohio – Franklin Castle. Officially known as the Tiedemann mansion, the unusual structure had long been called the most haunted house in the state. During its long and rather odd history, the ghosts became an integral part of its lore. For years, tales were told of doors that exploded off their hinges, lights that spun around on their own, electrical circuits that behaved erratically, the inexplicable sounds of a baby crying, and even a woman in black who had been spotted staring forlornly from a small window in the front tower room.

According to local tales, there have always been ghosts in this house. And this should come as no surprise considering the dark deeds, murders, and diabolical events that have been linked to this place. But how many of those stories are true, and how many are merely the stuff of legend? 

Hannes Tiedemann
At the edge of Franklin Boulevard in Cleveland, you’ll find the castle – a place where it is hard to separate fact from fiction. It’s an eerie and forbidding stone structure that has long been considered a spooky place by history buffs, architects, and the general public alike. Rising high above the street, its stone tower looms over the property. The exterior is adorned with menacing gargoyles and for decades, its windows were dark and filled with shadows. There were originally over thirty rooms in the house and intricate carvings filled the interior. The entire third floor was a grand ballroom and the top floor offered sweeping views of the city and Lake Erie.  

And, of course, there were the rumors. Secret passageways, it was said, honeycombed the house and sliding panels were used to hide the entrances to these hidden corridors. It was claimed that a young girl was once murdered in one of these hallways by her uncle, because he believed her to be insane. In the front tower, a gruesome ax murder had once taken place and it was in that tower that one of the former owners found a secret cabinet that contained human bones. Cleveland’s Deputy Coroner, Dr. Lester Adelson, examined the bones in January 1975 and stated that they were very old, and definitely human. Many believed that the forgotten bones had been left there by the house’s original owner, a successful banker with a penchant for evil.

Hannes Tiedemann was a German immigrant to Cleveland, who started out as a barrel-maker and a wholesale grocer. He later turned to banking and founded the Euclid Avenue Savings & Trust, which made him very successful and very wealthy. He decided that he wanted a grand home that befit his newly acquired social status and hired the famed Cleveland architectural firm of Cuddell and Richardson to build it for him. When the house was designed in the late nineteenth century, Franklin Boulevard was one of the most upscale residential areas in Cleveland, perhaps second only to Euclid Avenue’s so-called “Millionaire’s Row.”

The house was built over the period of 1881-1883 and it was meant to not only provide an upscale residence for his family, but also to provide a temporary place for friends, family, and others emigrating from Germany to stay when they first arrived in Cleveland. The house replaced an earlier house on the property, which was torn down during the construction of the castle. Hannes moved into the house with his wife, Louise; his mother, Wiebeka; their children, August, Emma, and Dora; and several servants. More children were born, but the stories say that life in the castle was never happy. By 1891, it had turned tragic.

In January 1891, Tiedemman’s mother and his daughter, Emma, died within weeks of one another. Although Wiebeka’s death was from natural causes, Emma died from diabetes. In those days, death from the disease came as a horrible, lingering starvation for which there was no cure. Over the next three years, the Tiedemann family would bury three more children, one of them just 11 days old. It truly seemed as though the family was cursed.  

To take his wife’s mind off the tragedies, Tiedemann began extensive renovations on the house. It was during this expansion that the ballroom was added to the third floor, as well as the turrets and gargoyles on the exterior, giving the house a more castle-like appearance. Gas lighting was also installed throughout the house and, the legends say, so were the secret passages, concealed rooms, and hidden doors. Unfortunately, though, the hidden passageways and secret chambers in the house have vanished with time – if they existed at all. No trace of them can be found today, other than a small stairway that was used by the servants to get from the kitchen to the front door, which were commonly found in large homes of the era.

Of course, the absence of such mysterious passages tends to cast doubt on some of the more heinous stories of the house – that Hannes Tiedemann used the tunnels for his sexual indiscretions and even to commit murder. In one tunnel, leading away from the ballroom, Tiedemann was supposed to have murdered his niece by hanging her from a rafter. She was insane, it has been said, and he did it to put her out of her misery. He is also supposed to have murdered a young servant girl on her wedding day because she spurned his advances. Another version of this story claims the murdered woman was actually Tiedemman’s mistress, killed because she wanted to marry another man. Some say she is the woman in black who haunts the tower room. But, if there are no “secret passages” in the house, do the stories of the murders committed in them – stories that seem to form the foundation for the ghost stories in the house – have any truth to them at all?

Even without them, however, there was still plenty of death and tragedy linked to the house. On March 24, 1895, Louise Tiedemann died at the age of 57 from liver failure. Hannes remarried a short time later, leading many to speculate about the circumstances of Louise’s death. Soon after, Tiedemann sold the castle to a local brewing family named Mullhauser and moved to a grander home on Lake Road. His second marriage did not last long. He divorced her after only a year, leaving her with nothing. 

By 1908, Tiedemann’s entire family, including his son, August, and his grandsons, had passed away. There was no one left to inherit his fortune or to comfort him in his old age. Tiedemann died later that same year, suffering a massive stroke while walking in the park one day. Had the curse been lifted from the house, or was more tragedy coming?

The “Haunted House”
In 1913, the Mullhauser family sold the castle to the local German Socialist Party, who officially used the house for meetings and parties. Rumors quickly spread, though, that the Socialists were actually using the place as a headquarters for spy efforts during World War I. Years later, a German shortwave radio was allegedly found hidden in the rafters. The infamous “secret passages” were claimed to be the scene of a brutal murder during the Germans Socialist occupation of the house.

The house was mainly unoccupied during this time, but it’s possible that they may have rented out at least portions of it. During an interview in the 1970s, a Cleveland nurse recalled that she had cared for an ailing attorney in the castle in the 1930s. She remembered being often terrified at night by the sound of a small child crying. More than 40 years later, she told a reporter that she "would never set foot in that house again."

In January 1968, the German Socialist group sold the house to James Romano. Romano, his wife, and their six children, soon moved into the mansion, a place that Mrs. Romano had always been fascinated with. They planned to open a restaurant in the house, but soon changed their minds. 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. 

Mrs. Romano also reported hearing organ music coming from different parts of the house, footsteps in the hallways and on the stairs, disembodied voices, and the sounds of people coming from the former ballroom. The Romanos consulted a Catholic priest, who declined to do an exorcism, but told them that he sensed a bad presence in the house. He advised them to leave. Instead, they turned to the now-defunct Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Group, who decided to investigate the castle. If the stories are to be believed, one of the ghost hunters actually ran screaming from the house in the middle of the investigation.  

After enduring years of ghostly activity, the Romanos had reached their limit by 1974, and sold the house to Sam Muscatello, who was eager to cash in on the castle’s eerie reputation. He began offering guided tours of the house and making notes about alleged encounters by visitors with the woman in black, strange sounds, vanishing objects, and cold spots in the castle. He also used the media to generate publicity and once, during a live segment on Cleveland radio, host John Webster had a tape recorder pulled off his shoulder and thrown down a staircase. Webster later recalled, "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."

Another time, during a television piece, crew member Ted Ocepec witnessed a hanging ceiling light that suddenly began turning in circular motions. 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 began searching for the alleged secret passages in the house and that was when he found a pile of human bones behind a panel in the tower. Although few deny that real human bones were removed from the castle, whom they belonged to and how they ended up there has been debated. Some took the bones as proof that Hannes Tiedemann was the murderer that legend claimed him to be, but others, however, believe that Muscatello stashed the bones there as “evidence” behind the haunting at Franklin Castle. 

Unable to make the castle into the tourist attraction that he had hoped it would be, Muscatello eventually decided to sell the place. It was purchased by a doctor, who later sold the house – for the same price he paid for it – to Cleveland’s Police Chief Richard Hongisto. The chief and his wife declared that the mansion would be the perfect place to live but then, less than a year later, they abruptly sold the house to George Mirceta, who knew nothing of the mansion’s reputation at the time. He bought the castle because of its gothic architecture, but soon learned that it was alleged to be haunted. Following in the footsteps of the Sam Mustatello, he started offering tours of the place.

Mirceta lived alone in the house, but had many visitors. During his tours, he asked his visitors to record any of their strange experiences in a guest book before they left. Some claimed to see a woman in white, others a woman in black. Some told of hearing babies crying, or seeing things move about. One woman even claimed that she felt like she was being choked in the tower room. Mirceta admitted that he couldn’t explain all of his experiences in the house, but he maintained that it was not haunted. If it was, he told a reporter, he would too scared to live there. "There has to be a logical explanation for everything," he told an interviewer.

To the Present Day
In 1984, the house was sold again. It was purchased by Michael DeVinko, who almost immediately began making major renovations to the house. DeVinko, whose stage name was Mickey Dean and who was the last husband of singer and actress Judy Garland, spent close to $1 million restoring the house over the next decade. He claimed to have no problems with the resident ghosts, but surmised that it may have been because he was taking care of the old place again. He successfully tracked down the original blueprints to the house, some of the Tiedemann furniture, and even the original key to the front door, which still worked. Despite all this, DeVinko still decided to move out and put the house up for sale in 1994. 

The castle was sold again in 1999, but was torched by an arsonist soon after, causing substantial damage to the place. The new owner spent a large sum of money in repairs but was never able to complete the restoration of the house. During the time that he worked on the house, the owner stated that he was unsure if it was haunted, or whether he believed in ghosts at all. However, he did say that many of his friends and family had odd experiences in the castle. He added that it was not a scary place, but it was a little creepy, especially in the middle of the night. He said, “I've heard strange sounds and hoped to see something or hear something that would prove to me that ghosts exist, but so far it hasn't happened. So far it's been no spookier than sleeping alone in any old house that creaks in the wind or has rattling pipes."

In 2003, the house was sold once more and the new owner, a local land developer, announced hopes of renovating the mansion and turning it into the Franklin Castle Club, with a restricted membership. But three years later, it was discovered that there was no truth to the “plan.” No repairs had been made and photographs that had been publicized were either close-ups of individual pieces of architecture, or were older pictures from other sources. No work had been done, no memberships sold, and there were even claims that the house had been used a location for filming pornography. The owners were no longer permitted to allow anyone on the property.

Five more years passed and in July 2011, it was announced that the castle had been rezoned to allow it to become a three-family dwelling, and a sale was pending. It was purchased later that year by a European tapestry artist named Chiara Dona dale Rose. A permit was granted for residential exterior alterations in 2012 and local news sources reported that it was to be converted into a multiple-unit property. Renovations have been made, but it remains a work in progress, and closed to the public.

Is Franklin Castle truly as haunted as the stories say, or are the legends of the house simply tall tales that were overblown by previous owners to get paying tourists in the door? At this point, no one can say for sure. As more of the incorrect history of the house has been debunked, the source of the ghost stories becomes harder to find. But if we dismiss the stories of Hannes Tiedemann as a brutal killer and the tales of secret passages and mysterious murders, does that mean the castle is not haunted at all? No, I don’t believe that it does. No matter what, the castle is a place that is marked by both tragedy and death and the events of the past may have certainly left an impression behind. As with other legendary spots, it may turn out that Franklin Castle is just as haunted as we have already heard that it is – just not for the reasons that myth and legends about the place like to claim.

By Troy Taylor / American Hauntings
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