The Ohio State Reformatory, sometimes known as the Mansfield Reformatory, is a historic prison in the city of Mansfield, Ohio. Completed in 1910, the Reformatory served as a prison for several decades, and in that time, as well as after its closing, it was used as a location for the filming of numerous films, music videos, and other forms of media -- most notably "The Shawshank Redemption" in 1994, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Today, the Reformatory is undergoing a restoration campaign, and it is known for offering ghost tours, as the building is said to be haunted.


  • A photograph of the Reformatory, date unknown. Uploaded by AmyTheOvenMitt at en.wikipedia
    A photograph of the Reformatory, date unknown. Uploaded by AmyTheOvenMitt at en.wikipedia

In the mid-1800s, plans were underway for the establishment of a facility called the Intermediate Penitentiary, a facility that would act as a halfway point between the State Penitentiary in Columbus and the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster. As locations were considered, in 1867 the city of Mansfield, Ohio was selected as the prime spot for establishing the Penitentiary. After purchasing the land necessary for the facility to be built on, construction began in 1886, but it was not until 1910 that it was completed, due to lack of funds and other delays. In constructing the building, it was built taking cues from the Queen Anne, Victorian Gothic, and Richardsonian Romanesque architectural styles, with the intent that the inmates would be able to use them to reflect on their lives and be spiritually reborn.

The Ohio State Reformatory remained active for a full eight decades, but its activity was stuttered by the passing of the Boyd Consent Decree in the mid-1980s, which stated that the Reformatory was to be closed, and its inmates were to be moved to a new facility, the Mansfield Correctional Institute by 1986. The Institute was not fully completed until 1990, however, and as such, the life of the Reformatory was extended slightly. Once the Reformatory closed, many of the buildings began to be demolished, but in 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society formed and intervened in order to rescue and preserve the Reformatory. Not long after the Society’s formation, a large-scale restoration campaign was put into place that is still ongoing. Since then, the Reformatory has become a museum, and gives tours of the facility, sometimes offering ghost tours in light of the Reformatory’s supposedly haunted past.

History of the Ohio State Reformatory. Ohio State Reformatory website. Accessed January 03, 2017. http://www.mrps.org/learn/history.