WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio — A real castle in Ohio gives the public an opportunity to explore the past.

Squire’s Castle sits proudly in Willoughby Hills. However, “the history of Squire’s Castle may not be what everybody expects it to be," according to Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist Selby Majewski Bean.

If we go back more than a century, Squire’s Castle isn’t, or perhaps wasn’t, actually Squire’s Castle. 

“So this building was built sometime in the 1890s. We’re not sure exactly when but it was built as a gatekeeper's cottage. This was not built as the main house. Originally, this was kind of planned to be the front of the estate and somewhere in the hillsides would’ve been the main body of the estate but this was all that was ever built,” said Bean.

Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist Selby Majewski Bean.

The original owner, Fergus B. Squire, was a Cleveland oil pioneer and Standard Oil executive. He was born in England, came to the United States and worked his way up. Bean said it’s really “a rags-to-riches story."

The castle has enchanted generation after generation, and legend has it, the castle is haunted.

"The story I always heard growing up is that Mrs. Squire was living in the home, came down the stairs one night, saw her husband’s hunting trophies and was so scared that she fell down the stairs and broke her neck and she haunts the castle to this day," Bean said. "I don’t believe that’s true. What we do know is that she died much later in life, at the age of 73, from pneumonia at home with her family. So we don’t believe that this castle is haunted. It’s certainly fun to think about, but the story that she fell and broke her neck is certainly not true.”

Fergus B. Squire sold the property in 1922, and in 1925, “the Metroparks took it over, so it’s been in the park district for almost 100 years at this point,” said Bean.

At one point, the home had windows, proper flooring and wall hangings but that’s been removed over the years through vandalism and partially for safety.

“So even though now it just looks like the stone shell of a building, at one point, this really was a home,” said Bean. In the time since, it’s become a popular spot for picnics, hiking and even weddings and photography.