New York garage rock record company moving to Cleveland


By Michael Sangiacomo - The Plain Dealer



CLEVELAND (AP) — Norton Records of Brooklyn, New York, plans to open an office in the renowned Franklin Castle and move its record warehouse into the Screw Factory in Lakewood.

Norton co-founder Miriam Linna spent much of her musical formative years in Cleveland in the 1970s. The company she founded with the late Billy Miller has an affection for unheralded bands and performers of the 1950s through modern times.

Even though she has not been back to Cleveland in 40 years — except for a couple quick in-and-out trips — she said returning to the city will be like coming home.

She said she is not ready to talk about her plans for the Franklin Castle, Ohio’s legendary “haunted house” built in the early 1880s at 4308 Franklin Ave., but said there will be “a number of events starting toward the end of the year.

Before that, Norton will transfer tens of thousands of its 45 rpm singles and albums to the Screw Factory, 13000 Athens Ave., Lakewood, now the home of dozens of sculptors, painters and other artist studios.

“We will move our warehouse there in August,” she said. “All orders for records will then be shipped from Cleveland, with the first release of two songs recorded in 1967 from Wally Bryson, formerly of The Choir and Raspberries.”

Norton Records is known for finding records, often singles, by obscure artists and releasing them through their label.

She said she rediscovered the Franklin Castle last year when she was asked by the current owners, Oh Dear Productions, to act as a disc jockey for a private event. She spoke with the owners and decided it was time to move back to Ohio.

“It was like everything exploded,” she said. “I saw a bunch of old friends and old places and I was taken in by the Franklin Castle magic. This was part of my early rock and roll years and I knew it was time to come back.”

The owners have been working for the past eight years to restore the castle and they are just about done,” she continued. “I can’t say exactly what we plan to do in the castle, but we’ll announce it soon. We will have a party for Wally Bryson there.”

Linna said she will not move back to Cleveland permanently, but plans to spend a lot of time here.

She said Norton Records will continue creating and selling 45 rpms and plans to continue.

“I want to find more rare records from Cleveland and Ohio from the old days,” she said. “Our main focus will be on Norton Records, but we also have a lot of really rare, hard-to-find records from the early days.”

The Franklin Castle is a special place with a rich history of faded glory, failed restorations, reported hauntings, frauds and finally, revitalization.

It was built for the family of Hannes Tiedemann, a wealthy German immigrant, who moved in in 1883. The family dealt with tragedy soon after moving in as four of their children died.

Tiedemann turned his energy into rebuilding the house, adding new rooms, turrets and decorative gargoyles.

The house has been sold many times over the years. Rumors of hauntings started in 1968 when new owner James Romano and his family claimed to have seen spirits in the house.

Rumors of ghostly encounters continued prompting “ghost tours” and appearances on paranormal investigation shows. The house was vacant from 1994 through 1999 when it was purchased by Michelle Heimberger. In 2004 the house was damaged by a fire.

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By Michael Sangiacomo

The Plain Dealer

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