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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Haunted Locations: Mansfield Reformatory, Ohio

Today, we visit Mansfield Reformatory, home of the Shawshank Redemption film location! The Ohio State Reformatory began construction in 1886, right on top of a former Civil War Camp site and admitted its first inmate in 1896. The goal of the prison was to reform and rehabilitate its inmates during their incarceration.

The program consisted of religion, education, and trade and if inmates showed progress after 18 months, they would be released. If not, they would stay another 18 months. While the facility was having success with their methods, the state pulled its support in 1960 and began using the facility for a maximum-security prison, which it was not built for. Ultimately, this led to bad conditions and the facility was sued by its inmates.

The prison was closed in 1990 until activists purchased it from the state for one dollar and renovated it for historical purposes. It is currently run by a non-profit group and all monies raised goes towards its upkeep and maintenance. The prison currently offers ghost tours, special events, and houses a museum. Most notably, the location was used to film large portions of “The Shawshank Redemption.” Other movies filmed here include “Tango and Cash” and “Air Force One.”

In October, the site hosts a Haunted House event called “Escape from Blood Prison.” Over its long history, there have been hundreds of documented accounts of paranormal occurrences, beginning with the inmates claiming that ghosts were tucking them into their bunks, and grabbing at the bed sheets. Footsteps running down the hallways. Cell doors slamming.

Ghostly hands grabbing visitors and slapping backs as tourists traversed stairways and hallways. On the lowest level, where the 20 solitary confinement cells are housed, voices can be heard, whispering, eyes that glow appearing, strange and sudden chills, the uneasy feeling of being watched follows tourists as they investigate.

The prison is open year-round and hosts multiple events including the Paranormal & Psychic Convention. This yearly convention is held in the spring. For details on this and other events, including tours and paranormal investigations, see the links below. As always, if you plan a trip of your own: Respect the Property. Respect the owners. Respect the residents. Happy Haunting!

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