There are some buildings labeled as haunted simply because of their appearance; broken windows, vacant interior, and unkempt surroundings. Then there are buildings that earn the moniker of a haunted house because of their location. Squire’s Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, suffers from both; an odd location, and an unusual appearance.
Built in the 1890s by Feargus B. Squire, the house was only intended to be the gatekeeper’s house for the large mansion, and sprawling compound he planned. As one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company, Squire had no shortage of money for the grand compound he planned for his wife, but despite buying 525 acres of land, his dreams were never realized, save for the building known as Squire’s Castle.
Squire began by building the gatekeeper’s house, assuming that he could hire someone to watch over the property while later buildings were added. The building had three full stories, a basement, and intricately designed windows and doors. Squire eventually sold the building and surrounding land in 1922, and the Cleveland Metroparks system purchases the property in 1925.
The main legends surrounding Squire’s Castle revolve around Feargus’s wife Rebecca. Rebecca had been born and raised in the city, and humored her husband’s plans for a summer retreat in the country because she believed it would never come to fruition. She asked him several times to put the plans on hold, and when he refused, she begged him to reconsider. Finally she put her foot down, but the plans continued.
Feargus and their daughter traveled to the gatekeeper’s house several times on their own until Rebecca demanded he leave their daughter at home during his trips. Feargus agreed, but began spending more time there, which only intensified Rebecca’s feelings. Fearful of what could happen to her husband, she started traveling to the retreat with him.
At first Rebecca tried to enjoy her time there, but eventually the lack of human neighbors, and the attention her husband spent on his plans grew to be too much. The legends state that Rebecca broke her neck after falling down the stairs, and died in Squire’s Castle. The most popular story is that was walking through the gatekeeper’s house late at night, carrying a lantern when she somehow found her way into the trophy room. That was where she died, after breaking her neck in a fall. Heartbroken, Feargus took their daughter back to the city, and never returned to Squire’s Castle. Now Rebecca is destined to roam the halls of Squire’s Castle for eternity, swinging her lantern and looking for a way out, occasionally yelling out in pain or fear.
As is often the case with ghost stories and legends, the truth becomes mixed with rumors and conjectures, and Squire’s Castle is no exception. Squire abandoned his plans for a summer retreat, possibly realizing that the poor location was a bad choice for a family with a small child. He sold the property in 1929, and moved back to the city. Rebecca herself did die, though it was in 1929, seven years after they sold the Castle, and she died of a stroke in a house they later purchased.
The Squire’s Castle that stands today is significantly different than the one first built. Located in the Cleveland Metroparks system, the parks system has done a lot to deter vandals and curiosity seekers. The interior walls and glass windows are now gone, and they filled the basement in with concrete. Of course that only leads to more stories, as some say the trophy room where Rebecca took her last breaths was located in the basement.
Despite the rumors surrounding the building, Squire’s Castle is an interesting place to visit. The building is open every day from sun up to dusk.
Featured Photo Credit: Squire’s Castle Photo by Brian Myers