The Ohio State Reformatory

kjby Lyza Treadway

The Ohio State Reformatory has been at the top of the list for many people from thrill seekers to ghost hunters, movie buffs, and history buffs for years.

The land was originally a training site for soldiers during the Civil War. In 1886, the cornerstone was laid for the prison, and opened its doors in 1896. The prison was built in a mix of Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Queen Anne styles in hopes to inspire the young men to change their lives. This is the only prison in the world with a 6 story free standing cellblock.

There are many stories surrounding the prison and many believe it to be haunted. There are tales of an inmate drowning in the pond at the front of the property, stories of deplorable overcrowding conditions, inmate on inmate violence and murders, an even accounts of an inmate being set on fire.

The Mansfield Reformatory has also been the setting for several well known movies and music videos. Some of the movies include The Shawshank Redemption, Air Force One and Fallen Angels. Music videos by artists such as Lil Wayne and Godsmack have also been filmed there.

When you go to visit, you can take different tours; one highlights the Hollywood involvement of famous scenes and a few props, one takes you through the solitary areas, yet another walks you around the cellblocks and prison towers. Out back of the prison, you can catch a glimpse of the small grave markers spread over a large field, marking graves of inmates who never left.

On display in the museum is also Ohio’s Electric Chair known as “Old Sparky” and various items like antique handcuffs and pictures from throughout the years.

All money raised from tours, events and overnight ghost hunts go toward restoration. For more information, please visit their website at