GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE
This empty shell in the Cleveland Park District is
all that remains
of Squire's Castle today.
Located within the boundaries of the Cleveland Metroparks District is a stone building that everyone knows as "Squire's Castle". It isn't really a castle, it was designed to be a caretaker's house for a splendid mansion that was never built and it is no one's home these days... except for that of a ghost. This tragic spirit was once the lady of the house and her anguished screams have been reported here for many years as she haunts the place that sent her into an early grave.
The "castle" was built by Feargus b. Squire, an extremely wealthy man who was one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company. He had a wonderful home in downtown Cleveland but Squire always longed for a home in the country. He had a taste for the outdoors and took real pleasure in big game hunting, for which he traveled the world. Many of the animals that he killed on his expeditions ended up as decoration on the walls of his home, their horns, heads and pelts giving testimony that Squire had prevailed over the savage beast. Late in the 1890's, Squire purchased 525 acres of land in the forest near Cleveland, planning to build a summer estate for himself, his wife and daughter. A few years after buying the property, Squire erected the caretaker's cottage. It had three floors plus a basement, in which Squire designed an elaborate trophy room for the skins and heads of the animals that he had hunted down in various exotic locations.
According to the stories, Mrs. Squire hated the country and hated the summer cottage. She was left alone in the city each summer while her daughter and husband left for the country, so eventually she decided to try and spend some time there. Squire was busy drawing up the plans for the magnificent castle that he planned to build and, against his wife's wishes, he began spending more and more time on the isolated estate. Mrs. Squire worried constantly about being away from the city, the loneliness of the cottage and about the idea of being forced to spend every summer in the house that her husband was planning. In all of her worry and agitation, she developed insomnia and began walking about the house at night, carrying a small, red lantern to light her way.
On one fateful night, Mrs. Squire wandered into the trophy room of the house, a place that she usually avoided. No one really knows what happened that night, but it has been surmised that Mrs. Squire became frightened of something in the room, or perhaps even the mounted animals themselves as they looked in the dim light. Regardless, she began screaming in terror over something and in her haste to leave the room, she tripped and fell and ended up breaking her neck. She was discovered dead a short time later.
Squire was distraught and blamed himself for his wife's death. He abandoned the plans for the house and went back to the city, never returning to the cottage again. People who knew of his plans to build the grand summer home started calling the cottage "Squire's Castle" and the name stuck. In 1922, Squire sold the property.
As time has passed, the legends say that Mrs. Squire has returned to roam the summer cottage which tragically ended her life. It has been said that people who pass by on Chagrin Road at night can sometimes hear the screams of Mrs. Squire, or catch a glimpse of her red lantern as the ghost walks past the windows of the house.
Of course, that's what the legends say.. the truth is not nearly so chilling. Records say that Mrs. Squire did not die in this house and she did not perish because of a broken neck. In fact, she suffered a stroke and died at her home in Wickcliffe in 1929.. a number of years after the house was sold. So, if there is a ghost that walks this old place, it is likely not that of Mrs. Squire!
The Cleveland Metroparks System purchased the property in 1925 and it has been open to the public ever since. Today, it looks nothing like it did years ago..... because of fear of vandals, the basement has been filled in, the windows removed and the interior walls torn down, but curious visitors are welcome to wander through it at any time between dawn and sunset... but you may not want to stay after dark.
Squire's Castle is located outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Take I-90 to Route 91 (Willoughby Exit) to Chardon Road (Route 6) to Chagrin River Road. The castle is on the right hand side.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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