A Mansion, Ghosts & Universalism

Tiedemann Mansion
Tiedemann Mansion

A wee bit of oddball Ohio Christian Universalist history

Tiedemann Mansion (aka Franklin Castle), said to be Ohio's most famous haunted house was once slated to become a Christian Universalist Church.

Perhaps the strangest stories of any proposed Christian Universalist Church:

The mansion, built between 1881-1883 by Hannes Tiedeman is said to be haunted by several ghosts, resulting in a succession of owners. In 1974, the Rev. Sam Muscatello purchased the “Castle,” and along with his partners, Rev. Tim Swope and Philip Shelton, announced plans to turn the house into a Christian Universalist Church and a food distribution and dining center. The third-floor dining room would become the sanctuary. The Rev. Swope at the time, claimed that although the house was haunted, the spirits were not evil. During the time Muscatello owned the house, he claimed to have found several bones behind a false wall, which supposedly the Deputy Coroner pronounced to be of great age.

Sam Muscatello & Tim Swope
Revs. Sam Muscatello (L) & Tim Swope (R.)

To turn a house – which is in need of much renovation – into a church requires considerable funds, and the “Castle” was no exception. To fund the church, Muscatello and Swope ran haunted house tours ($1.50) around Halloween and rented out rooms ($15.00) to those who wished to spend a night and hopefully experience the apparitions.

The tourist trade never panned out and the church never got off the ground, Muscatello sold the house a few years after purchasing it. NOTE: (1) There is a bit of confusion over the religious affiliation of the Rev. Tim Swope. In some accounts he is a Christian Universalist Church minister, while in others he seems to be a Roman Catholic Priest. Swope is probably being confused with Fr. Robert Begin who during this time held a fundraiser (to raise bail for indigents) in the "Castle" that was raided by the police for selling alcohol and not having a dance all permit. (2) It is also interesting that the date of the proposal falls well after the merger of the CUC and UU. Muscatello was ordained on Feb. 1, 1975 by the Universal Temple of Truth Foundation, Dayton, OH. I'm still hunting down Swope's ordination. I'm thinking possible at the same time as Muscatello's. The stated purpose of the Universal Temple of Truth Foundation was "to provide a place of worship , promote the Christian faith and hold property in the church's name."

Image Source: Cleveland Library. Newspaper clipping: From nationally syndicated story of the purchase.

Frank A. Mills
March 25, 2024
Sheffield Lake, OH