Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hollywood Comes to Mansfield

When the producers of The Shawshank Redemption began scouting locations, they wanted an empty prison to use. With its imposing structure and stone walls, the Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) was the perfect choice.


Much of the movie features the cell blocks where Andy and Red reside, and the outside yard where their friendship was formed. I had hoped to see the cell blocks featured in the movie, but learned that they had to build that set somewhere else since prison cell blocks don’t face each other. Some of the administrative offices were in good enough condition to be used as movie scenes. The Warden’s office was intact, and the safe we see him enter his ill-gotten gains into was set into the wall here.

I shared the shots of Brooks’ apartment in my last post. That was on location, as well as the room where Red approached the parole board each decade.

What I don’t have pictures of are scenes from other movies filmed at the Ohio Reformatory. Movies like Air Force One, Tango & Cash, Fallen Angels and Harry & Walter Go To New York. Plus, Marilyn Manson once used the site as a backdrop for a fashion layout.

Haunted Mansfield

Not surprisingly, the Ohio Reformatory is also the site of many paranormal investigations. On several occasions throughout the year, the prison hosts Ghost Walks, overnight Ghost Hunts, and Haunted Prison Halloween Tours in October.
Zac Bagans of Ghost Adventures filmed an episode here. Apparently, his partner Nick felt burning sensation in one of the cells. (But then again, doesn’t someone from Ghost Adventures always feel some sort of attack?)

The TAPS crew of Ghost Hunters filmed here, too.

My husband is dying to go on an overnight ghost hunt, but I’m not as eager. The building is creepy enough during the day, with lead-based paint peeling from the walls and ceilings and rusted iron bars disintegrating onto my body and clothes. I peered into many of the cells and then scurried down the rusty plank toward the slightly-more sturdy rusted stairs.


Though I’m sure I’ll give in eventually and hunt for ghosts all night, I was satisfied wandering through the prison during the day. In addition to our regular self-guided tour, we took a “Behind the Scenes” guided tour of the nooks and crannies of the prison. For $5.00, it was quite a value! We spent an hour and a half with our guide, exploring the basement, solitary confinement, the attic, the armory, both cell wings, and learned the history of the prison and the changes it underwent throughout the years.

It’s actually a beautiful building. Even the decrepit parts were majestic, in their way. But I felt no need to wander around there at night with a flashlight and EVP device, crouching in musty, cramped cells looking for ghosts. After all, Ohioan Jeffrey Dahmer’s picture is hanging among the Ohio Penal System artifacts at OSR, and I have no desire to meet him, dead or alive! Nor any of his prison pals, either.


  1. The pictures of the outside are stunning. Inside, well, I pictured those cells all filled with people and it gave me the shivers.

    1. It was creepy. The outside seemed more like a castle, but the inside was decaying.

  2. Funny, that 3rd to last pic of all the cells (endless rows and levels) reminds me a lot of the gaol (jail) we visited in Dublin. Strangely, that was one of the best tours we did -- gave us so much history of the city and country and culture.

    1. I've actually heard about the Dublin gaol! I've heard these two are similar. If I ever get to Ireland, I'll definitely check it out.