Why You Should Be Planning a Visit to the Ohio State Reformatory

The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield Ohio is one tourist attraction that should not be missed. Known most famously for it’s spiritual inhabitants and from the filming of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, this world famous prison has something for everyone. The historian, the movie buff, lovers of Gothic architecture, ghost and paranormal seekers, and the shutter bug in your life will all appreciate this awesome location. Whether you opt for a guided Sunday tour, self-guided tour during the week, or come for one of the famous ghost tours or haunted houses, the Ohio State Reformatory will most definitely leave you talking about it for weeks beyond. After a recent visit, there are a few things you really should know before you go.

A Little History

The Ohio state Reformatory opened in September 1896 and didn’t close it’s formidable doors until December 1990. During those almost 94 years, 155,000 men were housed and given the chance to “reform” their ways. The Cleveland architect, Levi. T. Scofield, built the reformatory with a very Gothic and Romanesque feel to the outer structure. His theory was that the very structure and look of the building would inspire the men who entered to basically be scared straight!

Claims to Fame

Although probably most known for the filming of the 1996 film The Shawshank Redemption, the Ohio State Reformatory has also been home for filming in Tango and Cash and Air Force One. If you come on a Sunday for a guided tour, the Hollywood Tour will take you through several locations used in these films. MTV has also had it’s fair share of music videos filmed inside the prison cells. Both Godsmack and Lil’ Wayne have used the cells for dramatic effect in their videos. And of course, due to the haunted nature of the prison, several paranormal and ghost hunting TV series have filled episodes in the reformatory as well.

In addition to the movies and MTV, the Ohio State Reformatory is also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the world’s largest free-standing steel cell. You’ll just have to trust me that this is in fact a very impressive feat and you’ll completely understand once you see it in person!

What’ s available to do?

Mid May through early September, guided tours are available on Sundays and self-guided tours allowed Monday through Friday. There are three different guided tours: East Cell Block, West Cell Block and the Hollywood Tour. You will most likely only get to two in one day, so ask the very helpful staff for brief overviews of each to decide where to start. The first tour is $8 per person and additional tours are $5.

For the stout of heart, there are guided ghost tours available in the evenings or for the very brave, an overnight, self-guided tour is available for groups. Additionally, if Halloween is your time of year, the Reformatory boasts a world-class Haunted Prison Experience.

Useful Tips for your Trip

So now that you’ve decided you must visit, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

There are lots of steps involved and no, there are no elevators! Peeling lead paint can be found absolutely everywhere inside the prison, so small children and pregnant women shouldn’t go inside. Plan to arrive half and hour before the gates open (which is half an hour before the first tour). Cars will line up on the road leading into the front gates quite early, so plan to get in line as well. There is a small concession trailer out front with snacks and food, but there are also plenty of picnic tables, so pack a lunch and enjoy eating on the beautiful grounds! Tour group sizes seem to be capped at around 50 and crowds can get quite large, so don’t plan on a small intimate tour. There is no photography out the north side windows as there are two working reformatories directly behind the building. Signs are posted and we were told guards will come and confiscate your camera if they suspect you’ve snapped a shot! Check out the gift shop. Not only can you get dome cool keepsakes, but all proceeds go back to the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society.

Words and pictures simply do not do justice to the beautiful and formidable Ohio State Reformatory. This is truly a unique experience for the whole family to participate in together. The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society has done a terrific job keeping this building open and running, so please check out their website www.mrps.org for more information about the prison and make plans to visit soon!

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *