Ohio State Reformatory

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From the outside this place looks like a fancy castle, but on

the inside this place has housed some of the country’s toughest

criminals. A self-guided tour through the Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) allows

you to see the cells many called home and also take a stroll

through the sets of one of the most popular movies

The Shawshank Redemption which was filmed in part

here at the reformatory. So whether you are searching for

history, are a lover of the paranormal, or are a big time movie buff

this place has something for you. 

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My tour started through a museum and some sets from The Shawshank Redemption.

This is the original electric chair that was moved from the Columbus Penitentiary and nicknamed “Old Sparky.” 315 people were put to death in this electric chair including 3 women. 

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This is the desk Andy sits at when he is cooking the books for the warden in the movie The Shawshank Redemption.
Of course I had to sit there too!
This is a look at what is sitting on the desk.

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And here we have the warden’s office:

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The safe where the warden keeps his accounting books.

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Continuing on the tour I came across some movie props!

This table was one of the ones used in the mess hall scenes in the movie and was also one of the original tables used in the 2nd mess hall at Ohio State Reformatory.

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After the museum and movie sets it was time to move on

to the actual prison. I climbed another staircase and found

myself walking between various abandoned rooms. I was

one of only a couple of people in this area of the prison so

I pretty much got to explore everything from here

on out by myself and it was amazing. 

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Creepy right? When I came across this room it definitely gave me some chills, but I couldn’t walk past it without taking a seat in the chair. I walked into the room, plopped down on the chair, and waited for the ghosties to come, however, I certainly wasn’t prepared for what happened. As I was sitting in the chair I heard creaking in the hallway outside and then BANG! All of a sudden there was this couple standing in front of me in the doorway to the room and the guy immediately started to freak out. He 1000% thought I was a ghost and I had scared the living daylights out of him. Lol Like bro, I know I’m pale, but come on. Maybe during Halloween I should be moonlighting as a haunted house worker. Lol 
The doorway into the room.
So why is there a chair in the middle of the room? Rumor has it that if you place a chair in the center of the room in a haunted location the chair is supposed to move. I don’t know if that is true or if this chair in particular has moved, but that is what I heard from one of the videos in the Reformatory. 

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FUN FACT TIME! The Ohio State Reformatory building is so symmetrical that an “X” will appear on the floor here anytime there is light coming through the windows of these four rooms. 

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This is where the inmates would sit and do their schoolwork.

This is where the inmates would sit and do their schoolwork. This classroom gave OSR another slogan: 

Moving on we have another movie set recreation this time of Brooks’ room he has when he gets out of prison.
Complete with Brooks himself!

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Next came the chapel.

Attending religious services was a requirement here at the reformatory and this chapel had the ability to house all 1900 inmates at one time. 
In this photo you can see a line running along the back wall above the cabinet. That is where the south balcony used to be 
There were three inmates that were tasked with helping the priest clean the chapel and complete other various chores and surprisingly it wasn’t uncommon for these three to be left alone. However, one day the guards received a tip that the three were trying to escape and searched the chapel where they found this hole in the wall behind a cabinet. The inmates had tried to dig their way out and after the discovery of the hole all three were taken into the Hole and more time was added on to their sentences. No inmates were left alone in the chapel again. 

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From the chapel it was on to the cells.

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Here’s a look at a fully furnished cell:

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And another hallway shot because I’m obsessed with them.

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And a picture of cell #10 because 10 is my favorite number. Lol

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This cell once housed inmate James Lockhart. He was in OSR serving 1-15 years for assault with intent to kill. While serving this sentence James, at 22 years of age, took his own life by setting himself on fire with lighter fluid and a match.

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Next I moved on to some more abandoned rooms including the library,

The showers,

And the hospital.

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I thought this spiral staircase was pretty neat. 

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Next I came to a very special cell: 

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Then I entered this huge room where I got to see the tunnel

Andy used to escape and which also led into the area for solitary confinement.

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I wish I could tell you I went and stood inside of that cell, buuuuut I didn’t. I chickened out. Lol 

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However, I wasn’t a complete chicken at this stop!

Coming around the corner out of the area with the solitary

confinement cells I saw this staircase leading into pitch blackness. 

I might not have been brave enough to enter the solitary confinement cell, but I decided I wasn’t going to pass on this opportunity and headed up the stairs, alone, with my phone as my only source of light.

Standing at the top of the staircase this is all I could see:

I walked around up there completely alone (well…alone as far

as living people go) looking at each of the cells and

managed to find a hallway with windows which provided a little extra light.

Eventually two other girls joined me up there and I

decided that that was my cue to leave so I said goodbye

to the potential ghosties and got the heck out of there quick. Lol 

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On my tour I also passed through the huge central guard room. 

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And then finally walked past some more cells before making it to the gift shop.

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I loved my visit to the Ohio State Reformatory. It was so

nice getting to walk around at my own pace

(highly recommend you do the audio tour when you go) and

I got to spend a lot of the time on my own without anyone

else around. There were definitely some creepy moments

(flashback to the staircase leading into darkness) and a few

times where I KNOW I heard someone in the cells or cell doors closing, but other

than that the paranormal happenings were little to non-existent.

I also really enjoyed getting to see the sets for The Shawshank

Redemption so even if ghosts aren’t your thing this place is

definitely worth a stop for that. I would definitely go back in a heartbeat. 

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Have you seen The Shawshank Redemption? Have you been

to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield?

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One thought on “Ohio State Reformatory

Add yours

  1. Thank you for this virtual tour! I’ve watched the film, and it still satisfies me to see the corrupt warden get his comeuppance near the end (the part where he kills himself before the state officials question him.)

    Liked by 1 person

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