The Ohio State Reformatory, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory, was built 1886 to house inmates. It remained in operation until 1990 when a court ruling ordered the reformatory to be closed. Authorities wanted to tear the structure down in order to create a parking lot for the prisons near the area. However, its walls are six-feet thick and 25 feet tall. Tearing the place down was a tall order.
With the help of the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the location drew up to 80,000 visitors last year alone. It helped that the reformatory was the location of the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption. The reformatory hosted murder mystery dinners, Halloween haunts and festivals, and ghost hunting activities.
Last weekend, the Ohio State Reformatory celebrated the 20th anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption by hosting a special celebration, complete with a 1940s-themed party, a 13-stop bus tour, and appearances from some of the movie’s extras, Cinema Blend reports.
The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society is slowly working to renovate the prison for tourism. They purchased the property in 1994 for just $1. The society is looking to keep the reformatory open for the next six months, but they also have to make sure that the entire building is weather tight.
“It’s a 100-year project. We set everything up to create a foundation for years to come,” Paul Smith, director of the reformatory said.
The Shawshank Redemption was not the only movie filmed in the reformatory. There were also a number of other films shot there while it was still open, including Tango and Cash, Air Force One, Fallen Angels, and Harry and Walter Go to New York. Additionally, television shows such as Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters have taken interest in the reformatory to seek the presence of ghosts. Is the reformatory haunted?
“You hear things. I mean, it’s an old building, but… you hear things,” tour director Jodie Snavely said.
The Ohio State Reformatory holds monthly events, including the Haunted Prison Experience, ghost walks, mystery dinners, ghost hunts, Shawshank Trail tour, and yearly Halloween events. There are also self-guided tours, but visitors are warned not to shut cell doors.
“To be honest, we don’t have keys for some of these,” Pastor Puff, chief of maintenance and head tour guide said.
The Shawshank Redemption fans, tourists, and paranormal investigators are welcome to drop by The Ohio State Reformatory from April to September.