Blog Archives

Tucson’s Mysterious Manning House

The historic Manning House sits opposite a traffic circle along West Pso Redondo, near downtown Tucson, Arizona. When Levi Howell Manning built the mansion for his family in 1907, it was situated on 10 acres of fertile grazing pastures. Designed by architect Henry Trost, it is an eclectic combination of Spanish Colonial, Territorial, Italian Renaissance, and Prairie style architecture. It has been used for many purposes over the years, but rumors remain that it is haunted by either Mr. Manning or his son.

Levi H. Manning, son of a Confederate veteran, was born in North Carolina in 1864. While at home on summer break from the University of Mississippi, a fraternity brother and he played a prank that went awry when an elephant they acquired from a local circus escaped and went on a rampage around town. Manning’s mother advised him to leave before his father found out, so in 1884 he fled to Tucson, Arizona. He quickly rose to prominence, spearheading several business and development ventures before being elected mayor of Tucson on an anti-gambling ticket in 1905. One of Manning’s development projects turned the area around his home into an upscale subdivision known as Snob Hollow.

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Cleveland’s Macabre Franklin Castle

If you ask about a haunted house in Cleveland, you are likely to get one response: “Franklin Castle.” That is because this High Victorian style stone house is one of the most infamous haunted houses in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World, if not the state of Ohio.

Built between 1881-1883 by German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located at 4308 Franklin Boulevard in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Today, this neighborhood is economically depressed, but it was at one time an upscale residential avenue. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true?

On January 15, 1891, before construction began on the home, Tiedemann’s 15-year-old daughter Emma died of diabetes, a fact which becomes important later. Hannes Tiedemann and his family lived in this house from 1883 until 1896. He sold it shortly after his wife Louise died of liver disease. From 1921 to 1968, it was the home of the German-American League for Culture and known as Eintracht Hall.

Prior to US entry in World War 2, the German-American League for Culture advocated the overthrow of Adolf Hitler’s regime. From 1968 to the present day, Franklin Castle went through a series of owners. The first, James Romano and his family, are largely responsible for the house’s reputation for being haunted. Their encounters with the unseen were widely circulated in the press, and the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society even conducted an investigation of the home.

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Do Tortured Dead Stalk the Beauregard-Keyes House?

An architect from Baltimore named Francois Correjolles designed this historic Greek-Revival style New Orleans home at 1113 Chartres Street in 1826. Over the decades, it has had many residents, including Confederate General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard, hero of the First Battle of Bull Run. Since 1970, the Keyes Foundation has opened the house for tours and events. Today, visitors come to view its beautiful gardens and author Frances Parkinson Keyes’ rare doll and porcelain teapot collection. Some have gotten more than they bargained for, as rumor has it a number of tormented and restless spirits stalk the house.

The antebellum history of the Beauregard-Keyes House was mostly uneventful, aside from being the birthplace of 19th Century chess champion Paul Morphy. PGT Beauregard lived there after the war, from 1865 to 1868. His sons and he rented the home from its owner, Dominique Lanata. In 1904, a Lanata descendant sold it to Corrado Giacona, who operated a wholesale liquor business there called Giacona & Co.

In the summer of 1908, the Sicilian Mafia tried to extort $3,000 from Giacona, with disastrous results. On June 18, 1908, Corrado and his father Pietro gunned down three mob soldiers on the back gallery. Another was wounded. After a lengthy investigation, New Orleans authorities dropped the charges.

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Richards DAR House Museum

Built in 1860 in ornate Italianate style for steamboat captain Charles G. Richards and his wife, Caroline Elizabeth Steele, the Richards DAR House is located in the De Tonti Square Historic District at 256 N. Joachim Street in Mobile, Alabama. Over the years, this picturesque brick home has gained a reputation for being haunted. With its historic roots, this comes as no surprise. Even the sidewalk in front of the home is historic–it was made from discarded ballast stones brought over from Europe on wooden cargo ships. The ships would fill their hulls with the stones on their way to Mobile Bay, then discard them on shore when they picked up their cargo for the return voyage.

The Richards DAR House is a beautiful antebellum home, complete with a marble and granite veranda surrounded by a cast iron railing featuring ornate figures representing the four seasons. The Ideal Cement Company purchased the house in 1946, ending nearly a century of ownership by the Richards family. ICC converted the home into an office, but took pains to preserve the original architecture and woodwork as much as possible. The City of Mobile took ownership in 1973.

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Dr. Morbid’s Haunted House and Frankenstein Wax Museum

Located on the strip in central Lake George, New York, Dr. Morbid’s Haunted House and House of Frankenstein Wax Museum are fun, campy throwbacks to the haunted attractions of yore. Dr. Morbid’s operates from July 1 through October 31 and the wax museum is open roughly from the second weekend in April to the fourth weekend in October, so if you want to get your scare on, you don’t have to wait for Halloween. This is a rare treat. When it comes to commercial horror, I can’t think of another example in the northeastern United States.

Dr. Morbid’s Haunted House is located at 115 Canada Street. It features some animatronics and macabre scenes, but relies heavily on its story for chills. “Recently, during attempted renovations to Morbid Mansion, workers discovered a secret passageway leading to the ruins of an old abandoned waxworks,” the story goes. “Dr. Willy S. Morbid, the proprietor of Morbid Mansion, and known to locals as the Mad Waxmaker, is said to have used bizarre methods when filling his wax-works with statues.” Dr. Morbid also had two daughters, one of whom he locked away in a secret room. Look for Morbid’s preserved corpse to also make an appearance.

A woman of mysterious beauty dressed in black guides you through Dr. Morbid’s lair. My guide seemed immersed in the role, her voice adding to the macabre atmosphere. On entering, she asks you to stand against the wall, where you wait in near complete darkness. Seconds seemed like minutes as I waited for the inevitable scream. The only question was how close she would get.

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The Story of Emma Jones

“Emma Jones,” from my appearance at the Rockford Public Library on October 17, 2009: