The Ohio State Reformatory is historic prison located just north of Columbus, Ohio in Mansfield. The land where the reformatory is built on was used as a training camp for Civil War soldiers in 1861. Construction began in 1886 and its unique exterior was designed by the original architect Levi T. Scofield. Scofield was inspired by the castle at Chambord, France and chose to use three architectural styles; Romanesque, Victorian Gothic, and Queen Anne as a way to help encourage inmates to find their spiritual side again. The Ohio State Reformatory opened its doors in 1896 to 150 offenders with the intention to help rehabilitate them (as a step towards prison reform) rather than be thrown into a penitentiary. The first inmates were all immediately put to work on the prison sewer system and a 25-foot stone wall that surrounded the land. Over the years new inmates would also be used for other types of labor like making desks for schools. However, in the 1970s the reformatory turned into a maximum-security prison and began to develop a bad reputation linked to inhumane conditions. In total over 200 people died at the reformatory including two guards that were killed during separate escape attempts making it one of the most haunted locations in the United States.
The Ohio State Reformatories doors were officially closed and was then turned into a museum which can be visited throughout the year and used for ghost tours during October. The Mansfield Preservation Society is currently restoring the facility back to how it once was with the help of donations and tour fees. The Ohio State Reformatory is best known for being portrayed as Shawshank Prison in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption. The 1997 movie Air Force One used the prison for scenes involving the Russian prison. Godsmack “Awake” (2000), Lil Wayne “Go DJ” (2004), Anti-Flag “The New Sound”, David Allen Coe and The Moonshine Bandits “Take This Job and Shove It” (2017), and Motograter “Dorian” (2017) all are music videos filmed there. The Ohio State Reformatory has also been featured on many television shows, photoshoots and multiple paranormal investigation shows including most recently BuzzFeed Unsolved on May 11, 2018.
When you first approach the reformatory, you think you’re looking at a high-class Victorian style hotel or castle only affordable for the wealthy. However, as you step through the front door you are overcome with the feeling that you have stepped into a building with a darker past. Locations like the chapel have turned ghost skeptics into less skeptical. Included in these photos are some of the most haunted locations like the first-floor showers and toilet room on the east wing, chapel, west attic, solitary confinement, and both east and west cell blocks. All photos were taken with a Canon 5D MK III and 16-35mm F4 lens.