Ohio State Reformatory

Attention all Ghost Hunters or Paranormal Researchers – You don’t want to miss out on the Ohio State Reformatory. It’s one that has a long history for inmates, but a long history of the paranormal. And the property may seem familiar to many of you, at the end of this post I will reveal why it looks familiar, that is if you haven’t guessed it beforehand.

The Brief History:

1862, the field where the reformatory would be built was used as a training site for Civil War soldiers.

1886 – 1910, the prison was built and was intended to be the halfway point between the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster and the State Penitentiary in Columbus.

September 15, 1896, the first 150 offenders were transferred to the prison from Columbus. They were put to work building the sewer system and the 25-foot stone wall surrounding the site.

December 1990, the prison was in operation until it was closed by federal court order. The prisoners filed a class action suit citing overcrowding and inhumane conditions.

1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed. They have turned the prison into a museum and conduct tours to help fund restoration projects.

Ghost Tours and Hunts:

The Ohio State Reformatory is currently open to tourists 4 days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from April 1 to September 2. There are also tours on weekends from February 2 to March 31 and holiday tours on weekends from November 23 to December 23.

Ghost tours are offered: https://www.mrps.org/paranormal

For Beginners, Intermediate hunters, or Advanced – Ghost Hunts are offered on select Fridays and Saturdays during the year. Participants must be 18 years or older.

  • For beginners a guide will show you prison hotspots, and assist with equipment, interacting with spirits, and documenting encounters.
  • Intermediate hunters are given a 1-hour tour to better understand the layout of the prison and hear of the more popular hotspots.
  • For advanced hunters you can begin your investigations in areas that are well-known for their paranormal activity.

Once inside the prison, where should you go to experience the paranormal?

  • The basement is one of the creepiest places in the building. The spirit of a fatally beaten 14-year-old boy allegedly appears down there, alongside a prison guard with a malicious presence.
  • The Hole – also located in the basement of the prison, this was where the worst prisoners were sent. They were tortured, some to death, by the guards. At one time over 100 prisoners were in the space that was designed for 20. The Hole is allegedly filled with spirits, cold spots, a feeling of nausea as if someone is breathing down your neck.
  • The prison cemetery, located near the building, contains the bodies of at least 200 prisoners killed within the walls. Some died of disease, others at the hands of the prison guards, their fellow prisoners, or even their own hands. The cemetery is reportedly hard to photograph, as most cameras stop working once visitors set foot on its grounds.  
  • The Chapel, despite its designation as a holy place, is just as haunted as anywhere else on the grounds. Spirits supposedly lurk throughout the space, showing up as ghostly orbs in photographs.
  • The East cell blocks hold many ghosts. One of these spirits belonged to a man who set himself on fire in his cell. He apparently doused himself with kerosene and lit a match. By the time the guards got to him, it was too late, and his skin already falling off in chunks. He haunts the cell where he died, sometimes showing himself to visitors. 
  • The stairs leading to the guard tower are haunted by unseen entities who push visitors, and these aren’t any love taps either. Disembodied voices also permeate the area, but they pale in comparison to entities strong enough to violently shove grown men up and down the steps.
  • The prison infirmary, a place once filled with sick and dying prisoners, is now filled by their ghosts. The infirmary also gives off high electromagnetic readings according to paranormal experts, which people think leads to the ghostly orbs found in photos.

Now, if you made it this far, you may have recognized the prison from a very well-known prison movie, if not, the photo to the left may help, but the Ohio State Reformatory was the site for the filming of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

Happy Ghost Hunting!

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