Last weekend my family and I drove down to Mansfield, Ohio to tour the former Ohio State Reformatory, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory. If you are thinking “that looks oddly familiar”, then you’re probably right because the former prison was also the set of the film The Shawshank Redemption.
This historic site is also one of Ohio’s most haunted locations; it was featured on both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Every fall the reformatory hosts ghost tours and there is even an option to spend the night at the prison. We took the standard “Hollywood Tour” and that took us to the most popular rooms seen in The Shawshank Redemption. Although, I hope to come back for a haunted tour before Halloween.
The tour was extra interesting because our tour guide was a former inmate at The Ohio State Reformatory, therefore provided us with unimaginable details on what it was like as a prisoner in the late 1960s.
The entire structure is remarkable and worth seeing if ever traveling to Ohio. The area is beyond massive, measuring about 250,000 square feet–that’s over four times the size of The White House.
There’s a lot of walking and stair climbing throughout the tour with a fair warning for those scared of heights as well. At one point we were 6 stories high.
The reformatory closed its doors in December of 1990 and the state of Ohio had plans to demolish the building after The Shawshank Redemption wrapped up filming. The prison was eventually bought out and is now maintained by The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, undergoing restoration.
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