By: Beth Casteel
The staff of the Cauldron hopes you “ain’t afraid of no ghosts,” because this issue’s feature is all about Ohio’s most haunted locations.
When it comes to a haunted history, Northeast Ohio is filled with some creepy places that many people in the area believe are filled with spirits. With Cleveland’s long history, one question begs to be answered: where are the most haunted spots in Cleveland?
From Franklin Castle to Hell Town, Cleveland’s haunted history is filled with urban legends and paranormal investigations. But, before anyone goes hanging out in graveyards, learning how to properly ghost hunt to avoid demon possession might be somewhat important.
According to Ghosthunting 101, there are two ways one can go about searching for the paranormal: ghost hunting and ghost investigating. While these are two things that sound similar, by definition, they are actually very different.
A ghost hunt entails going to a place where no paranormal happenings have been reported and trying to find evidence of the supernatural. A ghost investigation on the other hand, means going to a reportedly haunted place and recording data (videos, photos, interviews, audio and more).
Once figuring out the type of ghost encounter, there are a few more basic levels of understanding that one needs to know before they can attempt to become the next Ed and Lorraine Warren. As Ghosthunting 101 notes, realizing what types of spirits there are, and other general tips and tricks, is important for any investigation or hunt.
Ghosts come in many forms. Whether that be orbs, demons and even poltergeists, there are many types one could encounter. There are two common types of spirits that people usually encounter. The first is a spirit who was once human, but are now stuck because of some form of guilt or unfinished business. These spirits generally aren’t dangerous and are typically the types of spirits you’ll find 95 percent of the time.
On the other end, however, are spirits that were never human. Interaction with these nonhuman entities are few and far between, but as the site points out, they are generally bad news and should be avoided if one happens to come across them while doing an investigation.
Understanding the inner workings of a paranormal investigation is only half the battle. When it comes to the investigation itself, many places recommend a whole slew of things before actually going into the field.
There’s a mix of things that will be needed on a hunt. Basics, like notebooks and first aid kits, are recommended while actual equipment like cameras, digital recorders, hand-held radios, flashlights and EMF detectors are also suggested.
For those prepared to go on a ghost hunt, or a ghost investigation, there are a few basic procedures that are common in the field. As Tri-C Ghost Hunters explain, the investigation process can be broken into three processes: the pre-investigation, the investigation itself and the post-investigation.
Generally speaking, doing research of the location prior to actually going is a good first step. Finding out the location’s history, conducting interviews with the people at the location, figuring out what some of the reported ghost sightings are and getting a general feel for the location is a recommendation that was noted.
Once there is a set date and time for the investigation, they note that a tour of the location to determine what spots have high levels of activity should be the first thing done on site. After “hot spots” are located, they recommend to set up equipment and then leave the premise for a few hours to have undisturbed shots. After returning, a typical investigation can last a few hours. During this time, groups are assigned to certain spots and the investigation begins.
As the investigation comes to an end, a review of all the footage, photos and audio is done to determine whether or not the location is actually haunted. Once that is determined, it is up to the owners to decide what the next steps are.
With the process in mind, and maybe a priest at the ready, The Cauldron’s unofficial guide to ghost hunting is now complete. Good luck, our ghoulfriends.
For this article, the Cauldron’s feature editor went on a ghost tour with Haunted Cleveland to see firsthand the process of ghost hunting. While there, she was able to explore some of the most haunted spots in Cleveland.
The first stop on Haunted Cleveland’s ghost tours was a walkthrough of Variety Theater. Much like most historical buildings in the Cleveland area, the Variety Theater was used for many things since its creation in the 1920s. With its long history, reports say many ghosts still haunt the halls of this abandoned theater.
The next stop on the tour was Gray’s Armory, which served as the headquarters for a volunteer militia that served during the Civil War. While visitors come for its rich history, they also come for ghosts. Some claim to hear footsteps and others claim to have seen a woman in white lurking the halls.
Erie Street Cemetery
The final stop of Haunted Cleveland’s Ghost Tour was to visit the Erie Street Cemetery. One of Cleveland’s oldest and most haunted spots, the cemetery is home to almost 200 years worth of scary legends. Of these ghostly inhabitants, are early settlers in Cleveland and the chief of the Mesquakie tribe, Joc-O-Sot.
Cleveland’s “most haunted” spots:
Boston Mills aka Hell Town
Hell Town, a nickname given to the northern part of Summit County, is a combination of areas that got lumped into one large region commonly referred to as Boston Mills. Settled in 1806, the “town” has an impossibly long list of legends that include satanic churches, a serial killer who killed a busload of children, government conspiracies and an “End of The World,” road.
There are entirely too many local legends about the little town, but as Ghosts Of Ohio note, many of these tales seem to intertwine with one another. Further claims include seeing “ghostly faces” inside the windows of a slaughterhouse, a chemical spill, a light staying on in an abandoned house and ghosts haunting a cemetery. Upon investigating the town, Ghosts Of Ohio found that most of these horrifying stories are urban legends spread on the internet and not actual happenings of the supernatural.
Built around the 1890s, Squire’s Castle was constructed by Standard Oil Vice President Feargus B. Squire in order for his family to have a summer retreat. As legend would have it, Squire, an avid hunter, built a trophy room in the basement of the house. One evening, legend has it that Mrs Squires ventured down to the trophy room. Varying reports claim she saw something that gave her a fright, and as she was fleeing the scene, she fell and broke her neck. Upon finding her body the next day, Mr Squire immediately stopped construction and moved back into the city.
According to Ghosts Of Ohio, legend has it that Mr Squire’s wife still inhabits the castle. Many claim to have seen a lone spirit with a red lantern in the windows of the structure. However, the site reports that Mrs Squires did not die at the house, making the tale unlikely. But, they do share that there could be something that lurks the halls.
The Mansfield Reformatory
The Mansfield Reformatory opened its doors in 1890, where it was set to hold first-time offenders that were too violent for other places. At the turn of the 20th century, however, the prison was forced to open its doors to inmates that were charged with more violent crimes.
By the 1960s and before officially closing its doors as a working prison, the reformatory became overpopulated, and soon disease and death plagued the halls of the prison.
The ghosts that inhabit the halls of this prison make their presence known. According to various reports, visitors and tour guides of the prison have experienced a whole slew of paranormal activities, including unexplainable chills, cell doors slamming shut, dark figures roaming the halls and some have been pushed and punched by unseen forces.
The House Of Wills
The House of Wills has served many purposes in its long history with the city. As Fringe Paranormal points out, the house has had many variations of use in its lifetime, including a funeral home, a hospital for Hungarian and Jewish immigrants, various incarnations of Jewish centers, a German socialist club and even a speakeasy. With such a long-standing history, there are also some pretty major accounts of the paranormal. During its time as a hospital, the house has been home to a slew of owners, deaths, funerals and suicides.
According to Fringe Paranormal, guests have reported hearing footsteps, people have heard their names being called (even though they were alone), some have seen shadows walking in the halls and a few people have even claimed to have seen some sort of vortex.
Located on Euclid Avenue, the Agora Theatre has seen many people come and go during its time as one of Cleveland’s best venues. Originally, the massive theater was called the Metropolitan Theatre in 1910, where it acted as a movie theater that was also home to the most elegant interior architecture. It stopped showing films in the 50s, where it turned into a venue, WHK Auditorium, that held acts like Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Soon after moving to live music, it turned into the venue we know today.
Unlike most of these places, the Agora has one spirit that most reports account for in their findings: a man in a yellow raincoat. It’s unclear who exactly this person is, but as Dead Ohio reports, seeing this yellow-coated spirit isn’t the only thing you’ll see. Workers have reported strange feelings, doors unlocking and opening on their own and weird vibrations in the basement area.
Out of all of the locations on this list, Franklin Castle is the most commonly cited as haunted and has been named one of Ohio’s most haunted places.
The castle was built in 1881 by a businessman and a banker by the name of Hannes Tiedemann. The house has been the scene of many alleged deaths, most of which happened under circumstances that were anything but normal. Of those deaths, some included Tiedemann’s wife, his children and his mother.
According to Cleveland Scene, people have reported hearing the sounds of babies crying throughout the castle, several victims of those strange deaths have been sighted roaming the halls and there’s allegedly a “cold room,” which is occupied by a spirit named Karen and is always 10 degrees colder than any other room in the house.