Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours Highlights Cleveland's Spooky Past
Halloween is approaching, and if the commercial haunted houses aren't your thing, there are plenty of places to ghost-hunt in Cleveland.
Legend has it that a man dressed in a green suit and a green hat haunts the inside of the vaudeville-era State Theatre at Cleveland's historic Playhouse Square. Take a picture inside the theatre and you'll almost always see a mysterious green orb floating in your image.
That's according to Charles Gove, owner of Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours where the slogan is "Our Business is Dead."
"We almost always get people who have green orbs in their pictures when inside the State Theatre," he says. "We haven't had too many tours where someone didn't scream, ‘I have a green orb!'"
PlayhouseSquare is just one of many stops on Gove's vastly popular ghost tours. While his small business hosts a multitude of haunted tours all year round (including the Torso Murders Tour and Murder, Mystery & Mayhem Tour), it's those during the Halloween season that sell out every year.
"This year is an exciting year for us because on October 3, we have a book being released called Haunted Cleveland. We're basing this year's tour on each chapter of the book and calling it the ‘Haunted Cleveland Book Ghost Tour,'" Gove says.
The Haunted Cleveland Book Ghost Tour - which includes transportation to all the stops aboard a 50-person tour bus - is considered the "Best Of" version of all Haunted Cleveland tours.
Of course, one of the stops on this bone-chilling tour is Franklin Castle - widely recognized as one of the most haunted houses in all of Ohio.
The house, with its castle-like High Victorian Eclectic construction, was built between 1881 - 1883 for its original owner Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant and successful grocer and banker. The house is said to contain a myriad of hidden passageways, secret rooms and underground tunnels.
Local folklore claims that several people died behind the walls of this 21-room mansion including Tiedemann's three infant children, teenaged daughter, niece, servant, mistress and wife. It's thought that all occurred at the hands of Tiedemann himself.
After his death, the house is said to have been occupied by a mad scientist who conducted botched human experiments - as evident by the discovery of several human skeletons. Others believe the home was once a station for German Nazis who gunned-down 20 of its members within a secret room.
The sound of babies crying uncontrollably, an apparition of a woman in white, spinning chandeliers, cold spots, faces appearing in woodwork and unexplained blood stains have all been purported by ghost hunters, previous owners and others. [If you've got the guts, you can read a bit more about Franklin Castle at Dead Ohio.]
"We created a movie about Franklin Castle a few years ago, because we were fortunate enough to be able to stay overnight inside. It's about 15-20 minutes. We show that on the bus so that people get to see the inside of the castle. Then, we go to the castle," Gove says.
Do if you dare, although going inside the house is no longer an option due to renovations.
Another stop on Gove's tour is Riverside Cemetery, were the group visits the gravesite of Tiedemann himself. Here, tour-goers get the opportunity to use dowsing rods throughout the cemetery, which act as conductors of hidden energy sources in which spirits - allegedly - manifest themselves.
"There's a ghost story at Riverside Cemetery where Hannes asks people to take him back to Franklin Avenue where the residence is located," Gove says. "You're in the car with him while he's dressed in clothing from the period. He doesn't talk. And, just about when you pull up, he disappears out of your car."
Then, it's onto the stunning theatres of Playhouse Square, where even its employees claim the presence of a few supernatural spirits lingering throughout its opulent theatres and historic backspaces.
One of the last stops is Grays Armory, which was built in 1893 to house the weaponry and drilling procedures of an independent company of volunteer militia (many of whom were among the first to serve during the Civil War). Today, it's a museum and popular event location.
According to legend, two ghosts haunt its hallowed halls. One is a soldier in a military outfit and the other a construction worker named Patrick who died during the construction of the building.
And, Patrick is quite the prankster.
"Patrick's been known to tip over paint cans," Gove says. "There's a closet in the flag room. He would throw everything out of the closet onto the floor. The employees would pick everything up and go back downstairs - only for it to happen all over again."
BUILD-YOUR-OWN HAUNTED TOUR
If you can't make it on one of Haunted Cleveland Tours, Gove recommends you create a self-guided Cleveland ghost tour.
"Research places that are haunted and then go to those places. Or, go to some of the places we go on our tours," he says.
On the rare occasions when the tours can't get through Gray's Armory for pre-existing events, Gove substitutes in a stop at the Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Public Square for a tour of the memorial's underground tunnel system. The massive 116-year-old monument memorializes the 9,000 Northeast Ohioans who fought in the Civil War.
Although the monument's staff makes absolutely no claims on potential hauntings, it has been reported by two independent organizations that the underground tunnel system contains "residue energy." See for yourself what that means during the Tunnel Tour.
Or, make way to the U.S.S. Cod, a World War II submarine memorial located on Northcoast Harbor, for their "Halloween on a Submarine" event Oct. 16-17. It's on this unique tour that they'll tell true but weird tales of the submarine's past while under red light and underwater. Some claim a ghost haunts the inside of the submarine. Others disagree. Either way, the educational component behind the tour is well worth it.