Photos by OHventures
100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield, OH 44905-1208
Nothing is spookier in Ohio than the Mansfield Reformatory. I don't mean the "fake spider web and bedsheet ghosts" kind of spooky. I am talking about the "decaying walls, rusted jail cells, and eerily quiet hallways echoing with stories of tortured prisoners" kind of spooky. This now defunct prison is one of the most majestic buildings in all of Ohio, resembling a Transylvanian castle soaring high into the sky. Built in 1886, the Mansfield Reformatory served as a prison for some of Ohio's first-time offenders. It was looked at as being a progressive step forward for rehabilitation. However, conditions worsened over the years, so much so that it finally shut its doors in 1990. Many say paranormal activity runs rampant at the prison, as improperly treated and abused inmates who died in the jail (which amount to over 200 people) continue to haunt visitors (that is, if you believe in that kind of thing).
Some may recognize the The Mansfield Reformatory, as it became famous nationwide after the release of the blockbuster 1994 hit "The Shawshank Redemption." Most all exterior and interior shots for this Oscar winning movie were filmed on site, and some of the iconic props from the cinematic classic can also be seen in person! Some points of interest are the warden's office, the Rita Hayworth poster, and, of course, the infamous cells the characters lived their lives. Parts of the Harrison Ford movie "Air Force One" and not not mention a music video by rapper 'Lil Wayne were also filmed here.
Today, people come from near and far to tour the abandoned prison in all of its decaying glory. Guided tours are given by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society where you can travel all areas of the prison and even sit in one of the cells (see a photo of me doing so below). The tours are from $7 to $9 which is unbeatable for what you get! It is absolutely amazing to see the balance between deterioration and preservation (old books and magazines from the 80's are sprawled about in the "Reference" section). It's also remarkable to see the East Cell Block, which remains the largest free standing steel cell block in the world at six tiers high.
In the fall (RIGHT NOW) the prison is transformed into a haunted house! It is hands down THE SCARIEST haunted house experience I have ever had. I am not afraid to admit, that at age 25, I was jumping and shrieking left and right! The cost is $17 and the lines are incredibly long....but you can guess, it is worth the wait!
Whether or not you believe in the haunted happenings at the Mansfield Reformatory, you certainly should still pay this landmark a visit, for its historic value, and for its pop culture status.