Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Franklin Castle - Chapter 9a

Table of Contents
Floor Plan

Chapter 9a

Terry spoke in a steady voice.

They called this the Franklin Castle. By far the largest home on Franklin Boulevard when finished in 1864, the residence looked like a gothic castle. Residents of Cleveland referred to this neighborhood as Millionaire’s Row. Hannes Tiedemann and his wife Luise designed their dream home based on a twisted vision.
Hannes and Luise emigrated from Germany. A hard working but feared tyrant, Hannes worked his way up and became a millionaire. Back then, a million dollars was Bill Gates-type of money, so this achievement carried with it power. As his wealth increased, he lost whatever values and humility he once possessed. He did anything he wanted because of the resources at his disposal. Hannes built his fortune as the owner of a grocery store and liquor store, the business venture turned into a chain. After he acquired his initial wealth, he changed his business model and founded The Euclid Avenue Savings and Trust Company. From there, his wealth increased at an exponential manner. This mansion served as the exclamation point of Hannes’ success in life. He was, in his own mind, master of the universe and could do no wrong.
Hannes built the Franklin Castle during the great industrial boom in Cleveland, and the distinction as one of the first homes on Franklin Boulevard. The choice of architecture firm to design and build the home seemed odd. This architect had little experience in building homes and they specialized in bridges and industrial structures. Luise handed the architects the specifications and they designed the monstrosity. The result was a truly unique home, perhaps the most notable home in the neighborhood. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the standard design was a large boxy home. The Franklin Castle has a unique front fa├žade. This house features turrets and carved stonework. And no gothic mansion is complete without stone gargoyles.
The Franklin Castle consists of forty-eight rooms, more or less. The number depends on what you consider a room. The house includes a large two-story ballroom addition on the west side of the house added in the 1880’s, stained glass windows, and fresco paintings on the walls and ceilings. The grounds include a large carriage house on the back of the property, which can hold four cars, as well as a fully furnished apartment on the second floor, which added another six rooms to the estate. Archer Ryan lives in the carriage house, and not in the main house.
The original owners, the Tiedemann family, consisted of Hannes and Luisa, his mother Wiebeka, and least six children, though the number is possibly larger. A full service staff lived in the house, their residents in the basement.
To this point in the story, these are the only public facts known about Hannes Tiedemann. At this point, the urban legends kick in. I can’t say how much of any of these are true. Most legends are based on some granular of truth, but who can say what. What I heard paints Hannes as a hated tyrant with his family and employees, a strict and cruel man with a fierce temper.
And according to legend, a murderer.
However, this is just speculation, at this point.
In 1881, misfortune struck the family. Hannes’ mother Wiebeka and his fifteen-year-old daughter Emma died within weeks of each other. The coroner’s report lists Wiebeka’s death as heart failure and Emma’s as diabetes. Speculation has the cause of death much more sinister.
I’ve read the official reports on the two deaths and details are sketchy, even by the standards of the late 1800’s. However, hindsight is perfect, and who am I to dispute a report over one hundred years old?
Questions arose about the fate of three other children, all of whom died in 1883. No death certificates or hospital records exist regarding the three. In statements Hannes made, he claimed the children died of ailments. Of course, interviews with neighbors suggest something more.
All quite strange.
But, not enough evidence for the police to step in.
After these deaths, a distraught Luise began to exhibit strange behavior in the house. The rumors suggest Luise went a little mad. I found records she spent time institutionalized at Fallsview psychiatric hospital. She worked on the house during the final years of her life, she changed many features. She hired a firm to add many special features. At this time, they installed secret passages, trapdoors, hidden rooms, and tunnels.
Such a nice little gothic mansion.

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