Sunday, October 6, 2013

Halloween Issue

This is my favorite month of the year!  Weather begins to cool down.  Leaves begin to change colors and fall.  Days get shorter.  However, the most endearing part of October is the last day of the month.  Halloween.  Ghost stories.  Haunted houses.  Scary movies.

This post will pay homage to three haunted houses in anticipation of Halloween.  I purposely didn't include the tired and usual lists that always includes the likes of the Winchester Mansion, Lizzie Borden's house and the haunted hotel in Eureka Springs.  I also didn't include any that are currently businesses.  I am always skeptical about those simply because it behooves the owners to publicize them as haunted because it ups their reservation count.  I hope you enjoy my listings of haunted houses.

These are in no particular order.


Let's begin with the Franklin Castle also known as the Hannes Tiedemann Mansion located in Cleveland, Ohio.  It is purported to be the most haunted house in Ohio.  This house has 4 stories and more than 20 rooms.

  It was built in 1881 for a German immigrant named Hannes Tiedemann.  

Between 1891 and 1895, 6 members of the Tiedemann family died in that house.  The first was Emma.  She died at the age of 15 from complications arising from her diabetes.  Shortly thereafter, Hannes elderly mother Wiebeka died. In the next three years, the Tiedemann's lost a child a year to death.  Finally in 1895, Mrs. Tiedemann died from liver disease.  Rumors were rampant that something was going on in that house that just wasn't normal.  Too many deaths, too close together.

Upon the death of his wife, Hannes sold the house to the Mullhauser family and by 1908 Hannes had died. There was no one left of his family to inherit his rather massive fortune.

There is little known about the Mullhauser family.  I don't know how long they lived in the house.  But from all accounts, the house remained vacant until 1968 when it was purchased by the Romano family.  James Romano, his wife and their six children lived in the house until 1974.  They reported numerous ghostly encounters.

They tried to have the house exorcised and even called in a paranormal group to investigate the property all to no avail.  They moved and sold the house to Sam Muscatello who planned to turn the mansion into a church.  In order to raise the necessary capital for his project, he offered guided tours of the house and even offered people (for a fee) a chance to spend the night in Ohio's most haunted mansion.

However, Mr. Muscatello's dream would never come to fruition and he sold the house in 1984 to Michael DeVinko.  Over the next ten years, Mr. DeVinko spent more than a million dollars renovating the house and even went as far as tracking down furniture and art pieces that had originally inhabited the mansion.  But by 1994 he, too had sold the house.

Between 1994 and 2011 the house had changed hands many times.  Mostly it had set abandoned.  During this time period two separate fires had been set by vagrants damaging both the main house and the carriage house.   A shadowy group had advertised that they were planning to turn the mansion into a private club and upscale restaurant even going as far as putting up a very detailed website which purported to document the renovation progress.  It was later discovered that the pictures the site used had been copied from various unrelated sites and that no work was being done to the mansion.  Rather the shadowy group had used the mansion to film pornographic video's and the website with all its documented improvements was simply a ruse to rip off investors.

In 2011 a European tapestry artist had bought the mansion, had it rezoned for a three family dwelling and had begun renovations on it.  Their intention is to live in one of the units and rent out the other two.


It's been stated that this house has a "pretty nasty reputation" as a haunted house.  The house situated at 46 South Welles Street, was built in the mid-1860's by wealthy industrialist Augustus Lanning. It has been featured in many local news articles between 1979 and 1982 with one previous owner describing the house as "Wilkes Barre's own version of the Amityville Horror house".

Prior residents of the house had committed suicide in both 1940 and in 1950.

Walker Bennett said he moved out of the house in 1978 because it was haunted.  He described ghostly figures of a well dressed man with a cane wandering the house, a young girl in a nightgown, inexplicable sounds emanating from the attic and within the walls as well as bloody spots on the walls and pools of what appeared to be blood found on the floors.

Twice he and his wife witnessed their daughter trip at the top of the stairs and drift in slow motion to the bottom as if she were being carried by some unseen person.

Later he said he knocked a few holes in a wall in a back bedroom searching for the origins of the sounds that appeared to come from within the walls.  He found a tin box that contained a red ribbon, what appeared to be human molars and chicken bones tied together in the form of a cross.  He also found a photo of Lanning. Mr. Bennett swears that the photo depicts the same man he had seen wandering the house.  This same man beat on the front door on more than one occasion.

Walker Bennett brought in a priest to bless the house.  In March, 1978 the Bennetts finally fled the house leaving behind most of their worldly possessions including their electronics, televisions and other costly furnishings.

The morning they fled the house, Mr. Bennett said the family was awakened by loud thunder even though the weather was clear.  They heard footsteps running in the attic, a young girl screaming, a child crying behind a wall, the front door shaking as though someone were trying to force their way inside the house.  The dishes in the kitchen were all smashing against the walls.

In March, 1980 controversial psychics Ed and Lorraine Warren toured the house.  There are photo's of Lorraine leaving the house with her hand against her chest as if in pain.  She stated she felt a "terrible despair".

Katherine Watkins bought the distressed property in 1982 for $20,000.  This generated headlines that read "Haunted house sold in Heights".  She stated to reporters at the time that she wasn't scared of ghosts. However, according to her neighbor and friend, Betsy Summers who lived across the street, Ms. Watkins reported unexplained phenomena such as shaking beds, lights and/or appliances turning off and moving objects.  Haunted or not, Ms. Watkins remained in the house until her death in 2011.


Summerwind (also known as Lamont Mansion) was built in the early 20th century as a fishing lodge on the edge of West Bay Lake in northeastern Wisconsin.  In 1916 the property was bought by Robert Pattinson Lamont who hired architects to transform the lodge into a private residence.   The renovations took two years to complete and once completed turned the hunting lodge into a mansion.  The majority of the mansion was new construction.

Lamont lived in the mansion for about 15 years after the renovation.  During this time period the maids and other staff members complained to Lamont that the house was haunted.  Lamont ignored their complaints as he didn't believe the house was old enough to be haunted.

However, in the mid-1930's, Lamont abandoned the property when he personally witnessed what he believed to be a paranormal event.

Local legend holds that one night while he and his wife were in the kitchen eating dessert, the door to the basement began to shake violently.  When it opened, the shadowy figure of a man was revealed.  Lamont grabbed his pistol and managed to fire off a couple of shots before grabbing his wife and fleeing the property.

At some point in the early 1940's, the property was sold to the Keefer family.  Some reports  list the purchase having occurred shortly after and some shortly before Lamont's death.  The Keefer family never lived on the property.  Rather they subdivided the property and sold the land piece meal.  The plot containing the mansion was sold and resold numerous times.  Each time it was abandoned or foreclosed, it reverted back to the Keefer family.

In 1969, after remaining vacant for some 20 years, the house was sold to Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw. Together with their 4 children, they lived in the mansion.  After moving into the mansion, they reported numerous ghostly events that ranged from flickering lights, doors opening on their own, hearing whispers that would suddenly stop when they walked into the room to seeing the apparition of a woman on several occasions in the dining room.

The Hinshaw's had an extremely difficult time keeping workers to help them renovate the house.  After a time they decided to do as much of the work as possible themselves.  One day while they were working, Arnold Hinshaw removed a shoe drawer and discovered a hidden recess behind it.  When he peered into the hole, he noticed what appeared to be bones and long black hair.  As he couldn't get further into the recess, he got his daughter to crawl in to take a look.  She discovered the skeletal remains of a woman hidden in the recess of the wall.

Within six months of moving into the house, Arnold suffered a nervous breakdown.  He took to wandering the mansion at night and to play the Hammond organ wildly. He claimed he heard voices that told him to do this.  During this time period, Ginger attempted suicide.

Arnold was committed to a hospital for treatment and Ginger moved in with her parents.  The land (and house) again reverted back to the Keefer's.

Years later, Raymond Bober (Ginger's father) bought the property with plans to turn it into an upscale bed and breakfast.  While renovating the property, Mr. Bober couldn't keep workers employed there.  They kept complaining that they felt uncomfortable there.  They said their tools would turn up missing or moved. They heard voices and noises that couldn't be explained away. By 1979 Mr. Bober had abandoned his plan to open a B&B due to the unnatural events that plagued the property and again, it reverted back to the Keefers.

By 1986 the mansion had fallen into near total disrepair.  It was sold again to an investment firm from Canada who in turn sold it to a family from Ontario, Canada.  They too, reported supernatural occurrences while on the property.

In June, 1988 the mansion was struck multiple times by lightning.  The only thing that remains now of the once expansive mansion are the chimney's, some of the foundation and the stone steps leading to the house.

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