Last summer, my best friend and I went to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. Most people would recognize it from the movie The Shawshank Redemption. While not completely abandoned, the prison is in a pretty awful state, and hasn’t been used as a prison since 1990. The prison is now a sort of museum and is used for self-guided and guided tours, although a good portion of the prison is still closed off to visitors due to dangerous conditions.
Although the prison wasn’t a high security one, supposedly 200 or so people died there, including some security guards. The only execution ever done there was for an outside prisoner and was done outside the prison itself, but still on its grounds. The history of it is pretty extensive, and it’s even interesting to note that the architecture itself was used to frighten prisoners, most of whom were young men.
I’ve visited the reformatory a few times, and have heard plenty of stories from family who used to live in the area. My grandmother lived in Cleveland during her childhood and said that when parents would lecture their children, they’d threaten to send them to Mansfield if they did something bad. Our first tour guide, and older man who had lived in the town of Mansfield his whole life, said that since he had begun working at the prison, he had seen and heard hundreds of unexplainable things, and he just learned to ignore it.
All in all, without boring people with long ghost stories, OSR is an authentically creepy place, while simultaneously being beautiful. The people who own it now run it on donations and revenue from the gift store and tickets from tours, and the money is being spent to restore parts of the prison, including the warden’s quarters and the roof. It’s definitely worth a visit.