510 votes

Ohio State Reformatory

100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield, Ohio 44905 USA

Closed Now
Opens Tue 11a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
  • Not Wheelchair
  • Public
  • Outdoor
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“As seen in The Shawshank Redemption”

The cornerstone laid on November 4, 1886 evolved into this magnificent Chateauesque structure. Cleveland architect Levi T. Scofield designed the Ohio State Reformatory using a combination of three architectural styles; Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne. This was done to encourage inmates back to a "rebirth" of their spiritual lives. The architecture itself inspired them to turn away from their sinful lifestyle, and toward repentance. This grand structure is comprised of more than 250,000 square feet and houses the world's largest free-standing steel cell block. The Reformatory doors were opened to its first 150 young offenders in September 1896. After housing over 155,000 men in its lifetime, the doors to the prison closed December 31, 1990. Today the Ohio State Reformatory Historic Site receives visitors from all over the world.  Every year tourists, movie buffs, thrill seekers and paranormal investigators walk through the halls of this majestic structure. Ghost Hunts are serious, yet informal attempts to document paranormal activity at the castle-like, former prison. Ghost Hunts provide an unusual, first-hand experience to search other realms. Ghost Hunts at OSR are the first of their kind in the United States. Witnesses have experienced shadow figures, slamming cell doors and yelling voices, and female witnesses claim to have been victims of physical attacks by the spirits who linger in this place. Public Hunt admission is $70 per person and includes access to the building from 8:00pm until 5:00am and a late dinner of pizza and soda.  Complimentary water, soda, coffee and hot chocolate available throughout the evening.  Gates open 7pm Check in between 7pm-8pm Guided tour of facility 8:30-9:30 Independent investigating 10pm-5am Must be 18 and over to participate *The building contains hazards including, but not limited to: steep steps, uneven surfaces, and lead-based paint.  It is not recommended for pregnant women. Sleeping during a hunt is prohibited. 

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 11 Helpful
July 14, 2014
Rated 5.0

The reformatory is such an amazing building, the romanesque architectural style of medieval Europe is head on! Solid, sturdy and built to last. The facility was built in 1886 (with construction continuing through to 1910) and was opened on September 15, 1896 to its first 150 young inmates that were brought from Columbus (location of another state prison) by train.

The madness that occurred within the walls is truly disheartening. The prison was forced to close in December of 1999 via federal court due to being overcrowded and for inhumane conditions. Hundreds of unexplainable deaths have occurred here.

I've done multiple tours here and signed up to volunteer my time, the daytime history tour (guided) is very insightful but you need way more time than an hour to explore the entire building and to learn the history and facts. I've done overnight stays (No guide. Locked inside of the building with no lights. You're let loose to roam and explore freely.) I've attended the haunted house attraction (Not scary, overpriced and always get wrapped up with the beauty of the building rather than the haunted event). I also have memories of this place from the late 1980's while visiting incarcerated family members and it's still just as overwhelming and beautiful!

If you ever get the chance to roam freely be sure to find the THREE nooses in the attic, hidden behind dummy doors. The feelings that'll rush through you are priceless, after all ... we are human.

In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed. They have turned the prison into a museum and conduct tours to help fund rehabilitation projects and currently work to stabilize the building against further deterioration. The windows of the south side east cell block have been replaced, as well as all of the original stained glass windows that were in the building have been repaired and are currently being re-installed. Slow but steady!

11 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Dana Newkirk

  • Road Warrior
  • 298 Reviews
  • 366 Helpful
June 16, 2014

Honestly, one of the coolest places I've ever been. When you visit, you've got the option to take either a guided tour, or a self-guided tour, my suggestion? Do both. The tour will take you to all of the filming locations where Shawshank was filmed, including the wardens office, and you'll even get to see the tunnel where Andy escaped! Absolutely visit!

7 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
August 20, 2014
Rated 5.0

We didn't have the pleasure of doing a guided tour, but even without it this place was just amazing. I wasn't terribly interested in the history, loved Shawshank but haven't seen it for years so didn't really recognize anything, and am not really into the paranormal (I was looking for ghosts... I guess they had no interest in me that day). Despite all that, this was one of the coolest places I've ever been... especially in North America. Would totally go back again and do a tour, though definitely won't be the same jaw-dropping experience when entering the east cell block.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 5 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
September 30, 2014
Rated 5.0

Amazing building. We decided to stop for the haunted house on our way home from a long road trip. Although, I wish we were able to get more info about the building and it's history, we were able to walk almost the entire building while being frightened by ghosts and goblins. Can't wait to come again with a daytime tour!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Greg Newkirk

  • Expert
  • 314 Reviews
  • 365 Helpful
August 29, 2014

This place is absolutely incredible, and I say that as a guy who has spent the last 15 years seeking out giant abandoned buildings to explore. Not only do they do both guided and self-guided tours, the building acts as a kind of living museum, where there's entire wings dedicated to the structure's past as a prison AND as a filming location for both The Shawshank Redemption and Con Air. They even have the original chunks of Andy's tunnel that you can peek through!

If you're into the paranormal, they offer loads of ghost tours, and even some private events if you want the place to yourself. The guides have particularly great stories about some scary encounters in the buildings. Ask for Ron, he's the best.

This place is truly one of the coolest stops in Ohio, and worth a visit for anyone interested in history, movies, or ghosts. Highly recommended!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
November 17, 2013

This place was amazing. We went on a field trip with my kids high school. It was frightening hearing stories about the place. I wouldn't want to go at night.

3 people found this review helpful
  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
September 30, 2013

exploring is so much more fun when you enter with out tours. :) just saying!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
September 30, 2013

why not turn it back into a prison and solve some of the overcrowding?

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
August 12, 2013

Who wants to go Ghost Hunting on Halloween?????

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 19 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
September 27, 2021
Rated 5.0

A must see! The self guided tour works. Get tickets online night before.

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Ohio State Reformatory

100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield, Ohio
44905 USA


Closed Now
  • Mon - Sat: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sun: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Outdoor Seating
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