“San Quentin” – Johnny Cash (live 1969)
Eerily serene, especially during a fast approaching nightfall– Squire’s Castle sits nestled in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Built in the 1890’s by Feargus B. Squire, an executive with Cleveland based Standard Oil Company, the structure was originally intended to be a “gatekeepers” house for a country home estate for Squire and his family. The home was never built, and the Squires utilized the “castle” as a weekend retreat. The building included several bedrooms and living areas, a kitchen, dining room, breakfast porch and a library. It’s interiors boasted finely plastered walls, leaded glass windows, and beautifully detailed woodwork.
Squire sold the dwelling in 1922 and in 1925 the land and structure was sold to the Cleveland Metroparks. Over the years the interiors have been gutted and all that remain are the castle ruins. Legend has it that Squire’s Castle and it’s land are haunted by the ghost of the wife of Feargus Squire, Rebecca, who died at a very young age, in 1929.
Photos taken December 26, 2014
If you are so inclined to believe such things, the word around town is that this place is, indeed, “haunted.”
The House of Wills Funeral Home at 2491 East 55th Street in Cleveland was built in 1900 originally as the Cleveland Gesangverein Hall, a German social club. It was designed by local architect, Frederick W. Striebinger. In 1942, John Walker Wills opened the location as a funeral home. Wills would become one of the most celebrated African-American businessman in the city of Cleveland, turning the House of Wills Funeral Home into a phenomenally successful entrepreneurial enterprise, and creating a winning model for other black owned businesses. J.W. Wills became a pillar in the community, and his business served as a civic center for the residents in area neighborhoods. Because of the historical significance of Mr. Wills, and the design of this old structure, the 42-room “House of Wills” building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
After a life well lived, at the age of 96, Mr. Wills died in an upstairs bedroom of this building, on April 23, 1971. The place is vacant now– it ceased operation in 2005. And ever since, visitors and ghost chasers have reported eerie phenomenon in and around this once thriving “House of the Dead.” According to Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State site,
“The House of Wills is home to reports of phantom footsteps, strange mists, and shadow people. Visitors have claimed that a disembodied voice calls their name out to them. In one incident, someone reported an energy vortex in the old casket room. Others see a full-bodied apparition of a gentleman dressed in a suit…possibly the ghost of Mr. Wills himself.”
Whether or not there are supernatural occurrences actually happening at the old House of Wills is debatable. What is not: It is very much a “spooky looking” building. The fact that it was a funeral home for many years, and that John Walker Wills perished from life inside it’s walls, only adds to the mystique and lore. I also can’t help but note the figure in the window of the top picture above. Hmmm… Happy Halloween!
Top photo taken October 17, 2013
Photos  through  taken April 2, 2014
“More Human Than Human” – White Zombie (1995)
From the storefront window of Starship Earth, at 16880 Lorain Avenue, in the Kamm’s Corner neighborhood on the west side of Cleveland. Happy Halloween!
Photo taken September 19, 2013
“Sleep with one eye open, grippin’ your pillow tight… exit light, enter night… Take my hand… we’re off to never never-land…”
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica (1991)
Pictured: The mysterious, dilapidated, old dwelling that hugs against the Friendship Baptist Church at E. 55th Street and Central Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. The church was built originally as the Tifereth Israel (The Temple), Jewish synagogue, in 1894. I could find no history on the house.
Photo taken October 4, 2013
“Crash” – The Primitives (1988)
Inside the fenced off area once known as “Chippewah Lake Amusement Park” (1878 – 1978). I posted other photos from this exciting trip that Blondie and I made to this historic place last summer, here: Ghosts in the Machine, and here: “The amusement park rises bold and stark…”
This area, in Medina County Ohio, sits as a graveyard of demolished buildings and broken down rides from days gone by– all of it overgrown by nature. We snuck in on this visit, through a hole in the steel fencing that the owner put up to keep people out. Eventually we were found out– threatened with calls to the police, by the caretaker of the property, a woman with a vicious looking dog. All we were doing was taking pictures! A day I won’t ever forget.
Photo taken on May 11, 2012.
“My Father’s House” – Bruce Springsteen (1982)
The Stanford House barn, located at 6093 Stanford Road in Peninsula, Ohio. The small rural area where this structure sits is notoriously known as “Hell Town” because of the dark legacy, legend and lore that pervades the landscape, to this day. The Stanford House was built near the banks of the Ohio & Erie Canal, in 1830 by George Stanford, one of the original settlers of the new frontier– Connecticut “Western Reserve,” a territory apportioned primarily in Northeastern Ohio. The house and adjoining property was eventually purchased by the National Park Service, and served as a low cost youth hostel until 2008. The road that the Stanford House and Barn make their home, is indeed, ghostly!— very rural, and if you let your imagination run away with itself… it will. The barn, which has recently been renovated from it’s original dilapidated condition, is now a beautiful stop along Stanford Road (during the day!)
Photo taken October 24, 2012
The one time residence of author Anne Rice– called “St. Elizabeth’s,” is purportedly one of the largest private residences in the United States. Originally, it was built as a private boarding school, in 1859, and later it was converted into a girls orphanage. The mansion, located on Napoleon Street, in the Garden District of New Orleans, is some 47,000 square feet in size and includes a grand ballroom, and a two story chapel.
Photo taken May 8, 2001.
Considered by many to be the most “haunted” house in all of Ohio, The Franklin Castle, located in Ohio City– on the near west side of Cleveland, has been, indeed, besmirched by a spooky past. Built in 1865 by German immigrant and wealthy financier, Hannes Tiedemann, this 4-story, 30+ room Gothic mansion was to become the home to deadly happenings. Over the course of just a few years, four of Tiedemann’s children were to die in mysterious circumstances. Tiedeman’s wife, Luise, and mother, Wiebeka, also passed away during their residence at Franklin Castle. There are also stories that Hannes Tiedemann murdered his niece and a young female house servant . In any case, this old, 19th Century castle had seen it’s share of morbid incidents and much speculation still swirls amongst those who are acquainted with this residence and it’s shadowy past. Since 1895, when Tiedemann sold the Franklin Castle, it has changed ownership many times. Some say that it is haunted and that screams can be heard coming from the inner hallways. Today it sits, waiting for renovation.
Photo taken October 8, 2012
Nature has intimately bonded with the remnants of the long abandoned ferris wheel on the grounds of the ghost town that was Chippewah Lake Amusement Park (1878 – 1978), in Medina County, Ohio.
Photo taken on May 11, 2012.