Visitors can enjoy prison tours, ghost hunts, special concerts and other events
MANSFIELD — The Ohio State Reformatory has grown to become one of north central Ohio’s best tourist attractions.
It is filled with one-day trip opportunities ranging from concerts to prison tours to ghost hunts.
The Ohio State Reformatory, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory, is an historic prison in Mansfield. It was built between 1886 and 1910 and remained in operation until 1990, when a United States Federal Court ordered the facility to be closed.
While this facility was used in a number of films (including several while the facility was still in operation), TV shows and music videos, it was made famous by the 1994 film “The Shawshank Redemption.”
On Sept, 15, 1896 the reformatory opened its doors to its first 150 offenders. These prisoners were brought by train from Columbus and put immediately to work on the prison sewer system and the 25-foot stone wall surrounding the complex. The exterior of the building, which is built from brick and concrete, is designed in the Romanesque style, giving it a castle-like appearance.
Most of the grounds and support buildings — including an outer wall — have been demolished. In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed. The group has worked tirelessly through to turn the prison into a museum. The society also conduct tours to help fund grounds rehabilitation projects and currently work to stabilize the buildings against further deterioration.
White “regular’ tours are available that showcase the history of the reformatory, others are interesting in exploring the ‘darker side” of this stately, spooky building.
According to the OSR website, “The Paranormal Program at the Ohio State Reformatory provides a unique way to experience the building’s macabre history. Most of the paranormal programs are conducted in the evening with the guidance of a knowledgeable tour guide. The Paranormal Program includes Ghost Hunt Challenge, Intermediate/Advanced Ghost Hunts, Private Paranormal Investigations, Ghost Walks, Ghost Hunt Classes, and Special Paranormal Events. Ghost hunting equipment, books, and merchandise are available through our Museum Store.
If you’re curious about the paranormal and crave a unique thrilling adventure, accept the challenge and join us on a Ghost Hunt at The Ohio State Reformatory. This program is specifically designed for novice ghost hunters that perhaps have seen the shows and are ready to experience the foreboding history of the notoriously violent prison.”
Ghost hunts are scheduled regulary, this summer, there is one scheduled June 1. You can learn more details and book your own ghost hunt on the OSR website.