Local History Digital Exhibits
Known as "Macklem’s Folly" because of it’s huge construction and maintenance costs, the Macklem House was built in the early 1850s by Dr. Thomas Clark Macklem at the intersection of Main St. and the Niagara River Parkway in Chippawa. Dr. Macklem had lived for only a few years in his mansion when health problems prompted him to move to Florida in early 1859. He died on December 11th of the same year and after his death the Macklem house was often vacant and gained a reputation as a haunted house.
According to local legend, around the turn of the last century while it was vacant, the house was used by a group of local boys as their club headquarters. As part of the club’s initiation rite, a prospective member was made to walk into the abandoned house after dark. As he entered the ballroom, he was confronted by the sight of a body hanging from the chandelier. As described in the Niagara Falls Evening Review of August 4th, 1950, "Since the element of terror which this dummy was supposed to induce (and probably did) would be considerably reduced by gossip, the grand finale was held a deep dark secret. Thus, many who saw the dummy and ran never learned of its true technical background and possibly some lived until the end, wondering." There were also rumours that the house was the headquarters for a gang of smugglers that had built a tunnel from the basement to the river bank. The house was converted to tourist accommodations in the 1920s but was destroyed by fire around 1930.