Recently a group of some friends and I headed to Mansfield, OH where the Ohio State Reformatory is located. This prison opened in 1896 and closed its doors in 1990. This location has also been used as a backdrop for movies and music videos alike. “Shawshank Redemption” was filmed here as was parts of “Air Force One.” Rock band Godsmack filmed their video for the song “Awake” here. Lil Wayne also shot the video for “Go DJ” at the Ohio State Reformatory.
Ghost Hunts are held in groups of no more than 100. They start at 8 p.m. and go until 5 a.m. You are free to leave whenever. You can go out to your car and get some fresh air as you please too. Refreshments are provided throughout the night as is pizza around 10:30 p.m. You can have a short tour before you are on your own or you can go on your own from the get go. We chose the latter option. Lights go out around 10:00 and you have nothing but the flashlights you brought and the moonlight to help guide you. As you travel through the east wing and west wing of the Ohio State Reformatory, there are six levels of prison cell for which you can go through. Most cells are open and you can go in them and check them out. A select few are set up to look as they did from different periods when the prison was open. Those cells were generally locked. Some cells still have old newspapers, books, and wrappers in them as well. Along with touring the cells, you can visit the chapel, hospital, library, warden’s quarters, admin offices, solitary confinement, as well as 95% of the rest of the prison.
During the tour, it was definitely creepy walking around in there. On top of it being dark, there was peeling paint everywhere. The cell door bars were rusted. The toilets and sinks, if they were still in the cells, were not working, filled with paint chips. There was dust on most things as well. To think of the kind of people the Ohio State Reformatory once held, the small cells they lived in, and the way of life they had, really makes you happy to have your freedom. None of us in our group of eight experienced anything that was 100% ghost related. A couple of people felt as if someone had tapped them on their shoulder or pulled their hair. Once person’s flashlight was flickering several times, yet when someone else held it, the flash light stayed on. Many of the pictures I took have Orb’s in them. Believers of ghosts will tell you that the orbs are spirits. It could have been dust in the photos, I don’t know for sure. There are plaques up at several locations throughout the visit telling you where scenes of “Shawshank Redemption” and “Air Force One” were filmed.
These ghost tours book up fast, so usually you have to make your reservation a year ahead of time. Our cost was $65 a person, but since last year, the price has increased to $70. The Ohio State Reformatory is run by a non-profit historic society. They say all proceeds go back into restoring the facility. I think the price was kind of steep for what we did. I think it was intriguing to see the inside walls of a prison and tour the facility. We left the tour early, around 2:00 a.m. because we had already seen everything there was to see and none of us had experienced anything too crazy to warrant us staying any longer. There is a lot of walking involved, so a comfortable pair of shoes is recommended. Some people brought a compass, stop watch and notebooks as well on their journey. We brought flashlights for everyone and we were fine with that.