Cleveland is known for great music, terrific parks, interesting restaurants and a top-notch art museum. But did you know it also has a scary assortment of buildings that would be perfect for a ghost tour?
As a former epicenter for American business, Cleveland saw many an entrepreneur and/or business stake their claims here early on, only to watch them go up in flames as the city began a downturn throughout the 20th Century. The elegant remains of former glories created the perfect atmosphere for sorrow, anger, and regrets, the ingredients needed for good ghost stories. Haunted Cleveland boasts many creepy places to visit, including one of the nation’s most notorious haunted houses. Draped in fear and sometimes sordid histories, Cleveland ghost stories are among one of the many reasons Ohio is scarier than you think.
Franklin Castle, also known as the Tiedemann House, has remained one of the creepiest buildings in Cleveland for over 100 years. A German grocer and banker named Hannes Tiedemann built the house in 1883, and allegedly committed many heinous crimes within it. By 1895, the house claimed its first victim, Tiedemann’s wife, Louise. People say that the “castle” is haunted by her ghost, the ghost of the Tiedemann’s daughter Emma, and the negative energy surrounding Tiedemann’s supposed crimes. Apparently, Louise often appears staring out one of the upper story windows. People also claimed to hear a crying baby and light fixtures and doors moving on their own. When another family, the Romanos, moved into Franklin castle in the late ’60s, they reported so many paranormal activity they invited a priest to investigate it. His message: leave this house.
As if to solidify itself as a haunted landmark, the house also hosts other nefarious legends about its inhabitants. In the ’30s and ’40s, the building was owned by a German-American club, and rumors abound of a mass Nazi murder taking place in one of the second-floor rooms. Additionally, other rumors state that human remains have been found in the house. though no one knows for certain.
House Of Wills
The House of Wills is a former funeral home-turned-restored house. The structure, built in the early 1900s, began as a social club, eventually becoming a combination funeral home and house for local undertaker, John Walker Wills. Even for a funeral home, the house hosts an unusual number of deaths, with one homeowner perishing here while another man was shot dead on the property in 2006.
Perhaps this miasma of death is what causes so many to witness strange happenings at the House of Wills. A bizarre energy vortex was sighted by one visitor, and people on the street have claimed to see figures peering down on them from the windows. Another commonly seen figure, a man in a suit, is thought to be the homeowner who died there.
The Terminal Tower
The Terminal Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in Cleveland, and one of its most haunted. Construction began on the tower in the early 1920s, and several workers died during its eight-year construction due to onsite accidents. According to a building manager, a few workers were buried alive in the concrete caissons. They supposedly still haunt the offices in the building – witnesses describe hearing ghostly footsteps and laughter, seeing the apparition of a man with a cigar, and the sensation of cold spots within the structure. If you’re looking for the building’s paranormal hotspot, head to the third floor.
Federal Reserve Bank Building
Massive and imposing, the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank building was in existence on the infamous Black Thursday, when the stock market crashed in 1929. Many who lost all of their savings that day killed themselves, and it only seems fitting they haunt one of the places blamed for the crash: the Federal Reserve Bank. Apparently, though paranormal activity is common in the building, the staff are openly forbidden from talking about it so as to save the building’s image. Most of the ghost stories surrounding this building involve a woman dressed in a 1920s flapper outfit named Matilda. She supposedly follows the bank’s employees around the building, showing herself at inopportune times.
The USS Cod
Although not quite a building, the USS Cod is a former Naval submarine turned stationary museum floating in Lake Erie near Burke Lakefront Airport. Originally used as a battle submarine against the Japanese in WWII, she sank 12 other enemy vessels during her time on the seas before being sent to Lake Erie where she would serve as a training base for navy reserves. The Cod is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of former sailors, including a single crewman accidentally left onboard. Named Andrew Johnson, the sailor allegedly predicted his own death on the high seas, and now wanders the halls of the naval museum.
The Cleveland Grays were a patriotic social group and military company founded in 1837, notable for their involvement in the U.S. Civil War. Their armory was constructed in 1893, and served as a place to keep weaponry and hold military drills, though many social events also occurred in the building’s ballroom. Now, the building houses the Grays Museum, along with several ghosts who can be heard wandering the building and stomping up and down the steps. Perhaps they are former soldiers still practicing their drills?
But another figure who most certainly isn’t practicing drills is a woman dressed in white, who multiple visitors claimed to have seen standing by the piano. Even if the instrument moves to another location in the armory, the woman still appears next to it.
The building housing the Agora Theatre has stood for over 100 years, at certain points showing movies instead of live entertainment. Considered elegant at the time of its construction, the Theatre hosted the likes of the Beatles and Elvis; Marilyn Manson supposedly stored his belongings in one of its rooms, including a box that still remains unopened. During its century run, the Agora has gone through multiple changes in both name and atmosphere, at times classy and others rambunctious.
But these celebrities pale in comparison to the Agora’s supernatural regulars, including a man in a yellow raincoat. This man appears on the stage, on the catwalk, and on the side balconies, peering down upon concert-goers and occasionally even speaking to them. Odd vibrations have been felt in the basement lounge, and a photographer once saw a group of workmen disappear before his very eyes.
Soldiers And Sailors Monument
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, built in honor of Cleveland’s military men and women who fought in the Civil War, stands as more than just a stationary monument – it is actually a building you can enter. Inside of the building are additional tributes, as well as a series of rather haunted tunnels, haunted by the spirits of former soldiers and unsavory types from Cleveland’s early days. You may not see them, but their presence can be felt and heard. The alleged haunting became so popular that each year, around Halloween, the tunnel is open to tours by the public.
Cleveland’s Heritage Hall once housed the downtown YMCA. Constructed in 1912, it held inexpensive dorm rooms for transients as well as offices for the YMCA employees. In 2015, a private company purchased the structure and converted it into dorm space for Cleveland State University students. Around this time, stories of hauntings began to surface. Students and security guards claimed to see lights turn off and on, and have heard ghostly voices and banging noises coming from empty rooms. As if that wasn’t scary enough, the paranormal activity present in one of the rooms reduced two normal students into socially withdrawn recluses, though no one can explain exactly what they experienced while living there.
The Hanna Theater is part of Cleveland’s Playhouse Square complex. The theater opened in 1921 and hosted famed actors like Ethel Barrymore, Ginger Rogers and Yul Brynner upon its stages. Ghost stories of the Hanna Theater detail the specters of former actors watching the stage from the balcony along with a top hat-wearing man who appears from the waist up only. These figures, along with reported “cold spots” and other strange occurrences, led the theater itself to host events detailing the theater’s own haunted history. Talk about good showmanship.
The Renaissance Hotel
The Cleveland Renaissance Hotel stands in Public Square and is supposedly built on the site of several very early structures whose ghosts have entered the hotel. One of these buildings was, Mowery’s Tavern, Cleveland’s very first hotel which opened in 1915. Some of the ghost stories surrounding the Renaissance involve the quite haunted fourth floor, where lights unexpectedly flicker and faucets turn themselves off and on. Guests claim to have been visited by dark humanlike shapes while in their rooms at night, as well.
The Cleveland Clinic
As befitting a place of sickness and death, the original Cleveland Clinic building is quite haunted, but some of those deaths fall outside a hospital’s usual parameters. In 1929, a large fire started in the x-ray room when some film came too close to an open bulb. The resulting fire caused explosions and exposed patients and staff to poisonous gas. In all, 123 people died, leading to the clinic’s haunted reputation today.