House of Wills Funeral Home

In Cleveland, Ohio a large three story manor stands as testament to a bygone era . This former funeral home, once a meeting place for grieving families, now stands abandoned. Some claim that the dearly departed still roam the labyrinthine halls searching for a way to break their mortal coils. Others believe the edifice to be the location of a portal to the other side. Do the souls of the dead inhabit this location?  Do phantoms remain, searching for eternal salvation? Join Fringe Paranormal as we investigate The House of Wills.

Investigation Date:  October 23, 2010

Location:  2491 E. 55th Street, Cleveland, Ohio

Investigators

Kelly S.
Don C.
Peggy D.
Lee Ann C.
Fred

Investigation Conditions

Avg. Temperature     59.6°
Avg. Dew Point         45.2°
Avg. Humidity           59%
Wind                         1.7 mph S
Solar X-rays              normal
Geomagnetic Field    unsettled
Moon                        100% of full

History: by Shelly Gatto

Throughout its long history, this large manse has served many purposes. For a period of 30 years this location served as a hospital for Hungarian and Jewish immigrants.  The home also saw incarnations as a Jewish center and, interestingly enough, as a German socialist club. There are also reports that the location played host to a speak easy during prohibition.

The House of Wills funeral home has been a part of Cleveland history since 1904. At the time, it was operating under its original name, Gee and Wills. In its first ten years the funeral home saw a lot of change. The partnership that formed Gee and Wills eventually ended and J. Walter Wills, senior maintained the business, renaming it J. Walter Wills and Sons.
The funeral home, which first opened its doors at 2323 Central Avenue, was moved to 2525 Central then later, 2340 East 55th Street. In 1941, the House of Wills was transferred to its current location at 2491 East 55th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Another location was opened during the 1980s, found at 14711 Harvard Avenue.
Early in the 20th century, racism was rampant. Many venues refused to accept black community events. The House of Wills was one of the few that would allow both black and white gatherings. An accepting attitude, which was not shared in many other places at the time, made the House of Wills a part of African American history as well as Cleveland history.
On December 17th, 1982, the funeral home was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places in Cleveland, Ohio. The House of Wills has seen a great many mourning families and their deceased members pass through its doors since the early 1900s. Whether or not any remnant of those gatherings still remains inside the walls of the House of Wills is a curious question that will hopefully one day be answered.

Claims
During its run as a hospital the mansion was the site of quite a few deaths and suicides. The last death to occur on the property was recorded in 2006 when a man was shot and bled to death on the front doorstep. Visitors to this location have reported seeing shadow people as well as hearing disembodied footsteps. Walking the halls of the building, one may hear someone call out their name only to find that there is no other person around. A former owner of the home passed away on the premises. There have been several sightings of a figure wearing a suit, with some speculating that it is this same soul. We have come across one account from a witness who claims to have seen some sort of vortex. While in the ballroom/casket display room the witness claims to have seen a swirling vortex appear for several moments.

Investigation
The Fringe team was eager to return to this location to perform a formal investigation. The preliminary investigation was quite interesting as we toured the immense home. The home consists of four floors and an attic area and contains over forty rooms. Our return on this date reminded us of just how large the site is. It was very easy to become disoriented in spite of having previously toured the location. After reacquainting ourselves with our surroundings we began our investigation. We experienced some questionable activity from the start. As we walked the first floor we heard a loud rustling on the floor above us several times. We went upstairs to have a closer look and noticed that a window was covered with plastic. There was a light wind that caused the plastic to make a slight noise at times. We do not, however, believe that the wind was of sufficient intensity to produce the noise we heard while stationed downstairs. Throughout the rest of the evening we experienced some minor events such as an errant KII meter spike and what sounded like shuffling in the basement area.
This investigation saw the introduction of a new piece of equipment. Fringe agent Peggy D. brought along  night vision binoculars for a field test. While in the dark basement area, totally devoid of light, members tested the binoculars. The binoculars had two settings: infrared and black and white night vision. Using this equipment one team member noticed a light or orb in another area of the room. This perplexed us as the room was devoid of visible light as previously mentioned. The light orb seemed to move around as we viewed it through the binoculars and was in the area of several chairs. We also noticed a small little glint further back in the room. The team examined this phenomena for a time. After switching to the infrared mode we noticed that the orb was still present, however the “orb” seemed to be a reflection off of one of the chairs which had a metal frame. We then moved the chairs to a different location and viewed the previous area with the black and white mode. As we suspected, the light orb was gone. Upon further examination of the glint farther back in the room, we found that light from the full moon was entering through a small crack in an exterior door and reflecting off of a spring/pulley system on a door. The remainder of our investigation produced no other major occurrences of note.

Analysis
We can not explain the loud rustling/banging we heard at the beginning of the evening. We can not explain the activity based upon the environmental conditions at the time. We also can not rule this as paranormal in nature. This will be classified as an unexplained event. It is possible that the noises in the lower level basement could be falling plaster as the area is in a general state of disrepair. The KII spike will be disregarded as it was an isolated event with no connection to any other activity. Our audio analysis from the evening produced a questionable EVP from one of the roaming digital voice recorders. We find it very interesting that what the human eye can perceive as total darkness is not necessarily the case. The dark basement room mentioned above was able to produce a reflection where there should be none. This reflection was barely visible to the naked eye and would have gone unnoticed if not for the night vision binoculars. We also find it interesting that the human eye is never truly “still” as evidenced by the “movement” of the light orb produced by the stationary chair. This event provides a useful experience for future investigations. One should always question experiences and try find natural explanations for unnatural occurrences. Only by ruling out the ordinary can we find possible evidence of the paranormal.

Conclusion
The House of Wills is an interesting location not only for its architecture and history but for the potential it presents to those researching the unknown. While we did not encounter anything too extraordinary, we did experience a few interesting events which make us want to return to the location. This old home may have promise as an active location. Based upon the results and evidence obtained on this particular investigation, we will rate this a CPI 2 based upon the criteria of the Collins Paranormal Index.

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Prepared for Fringe Paranormal by Don C

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Posted in Fringe Paranormal's Investigations, Haunted Places, Paranormal
17 comments on “House of Wills Funeral Home
  1. Anita L. Jones says:

    Are they still in operation? If not when did they close?

    • The House of Wills at the location we investigated is no longer in operation as a funeral home. The owners sold it and moved the business to a new location. This building is open for paranormal investigations. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and if you can, read the January/ February edition of TAPS Paramagazine for their feature story on the House of Wills

  2. Eric Freeman says:

    Contact Eric Freeman on Facebook to make arrangements to tour the House Of Wills on 55th st.

  3. Tiesha F says:

    Do you know the name of the current owner of the building on 55th??

    • Yes I can get you the contact info for the former House of Wills Funeral Home if that is what you are looking for. It is open to the public for a small fee for paranormal investigations.

      • Katherine Webb says:

        Does anybody know when The House of Wills will be open to the public in the future? My friends and I really want to check this out, but are having hard time locating an outfit that is willing to go with us.

      • Hi Katherine, the best place to start is on Facebook. Here is a link to the House of Wills Facebook page
        They do charge a small fee to investigate but nothing outlandish. If you don’t have any luck there send us an email and we’ll see what we can do.

  4. Mike says:

    We did an investigation on 5/12/2012. No emf except for small spikes behind the aud in one dressing room. This might have been caused by the power station next door though. (a portion of this guest comment has been edited out) Only a couple of evp’s which we still might be able to debunk, they came mostly from the basement area. This place is great if you wish to see history of a great building and business and how it has gone to hell now. IT STILL WAS A GREAT PLACE TO INVESTIGATE THOUGH. Noise travels in here so go with a small group.

    • Gail Johnson says:

      I would love to go and investigate the old house. But I wonder what was the name of the hospital before it was turned into a funeral home. Also, who or whom built the hospital?

      Gail Johnson
      St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
      Originally from Cleveland, Ohio

      • Hi Gail, I’m not sure what the name of the hospital was. I will have to do some research to see if I can find that out. It may take some time but I will post that information when I discover it. Stay tuned!
        Don, Director

    • Amanda says:

      I was actually there that night, but we had a boatload of activity! Intense cold spots, people got shoved away from a wall up in the train room, huge bangs, movement caught with a laser grid on film, not to mention the overall feel of the place. Fantasic place to investigate and I would love to go back!!!

  5. Benita Raesheal Lewis-Smith says:

    I found this article to be most interesting in details about the House of Wills. My great Aunt and my grandmother’s homegoings were located there. I’m not for certain the locations, whether on Harvard or on 55. Please conduct another investigation.

    Benita Lewis-Smith
    Cleveland, Ohio

  6. Thanks for setting the record straight on a certain issue Patricia.Mahobpatti. I have edited out the guest’s misinformed comment. I have also deleted your response as it restated the comment. I appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention.

  7. The group that said that is a very good and well known group..I get where they would think that..at one time I would’ve thought that too..unfortunately till the end of time people will always associate the word devil with satin.but anyone that knows Eric knows that’s not true..he’s rarely even in the house..as much as I’ve been since we opened..sadly 2 months ago and since..it has been vandalized and destroyed badly..such a large piece of history with so little respect..thank you again..

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