Legends, tales, and local lore all share the trait of being fairly well known, generally accepted, steeped in minor truths, yet mostly fictional in terms of accuracy. An essential component to any good ghost story is an old and creepy structure. The specter usually has a significant association with the house. Or ghosts attached to the area are known to move into houses erected on the property. Today's blog examines the first of several ghost stories of Lake County. We begin with Squire's Castle.
Nearly a century ago, F. B. Squire acquired 500 acres in Willoughby Hills. His intent was to build a summer estate. A three story gatehouse was begun. Contained within this initial structure was a basement trophy room. Ornate in design, this summer home was despised by Mrs. Squire, who preferred their city life in Cleveland. She avoided visiting the estate for some time, but eventually made sojourns there to please her husband. Lore has it that she developed insomnia and often walked the gatehouse at night carrying a red lantern.
One night on her travels it is said something startled her. Whether it was a reflection from a trophy or she looked into the face of some spectral figure will never be known. What is alleged is that she ran down the stairs, fell, and broke her neck. Mr. Squire found her the next morning. Guilt ridden, he ceased construction and abandoned the estate, moving back to the city forever. The Cleveland Metroparks bought the property in the 1920's. The estate is a shell of its former self as portions of it have been removed and the basement filled in. Park visitors still claim at night to see a ghost carrying a red lantern.
Another version of this ghostly tale has Mrs. Squire as a sleepwalker who was awakened by the howling of wolves. Running down the hallway, she stumbled, became caught in some rope and accidentally hung herself. Rangers on the site consider both these stories to be a nuisance and often tell visitors that the Squires never lived there at all. In fact, Mrs. Squire is said to have passed some miles away. Could it be then be true that other apparitions from the area then moved into the castle?