Mansfield Reformatory

by Kaylah Stroup
Mansfield Reformatory

The weekend before last, Jeff and I were spending our normal quiet Saturday morning in our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, as we always do. We had been there a few hours already. He had ignored my ‘I’m done when you are’ cue. (Me shutting my laptop, in case you’re wondering.) So I just figured he was getting a lot done and wanted to stay and work longer.

Because the coffee shop has a pretty good flow of good boiz (dogs, for the layperson) coming in all the time, I basically look up every single time the door opens. One such instance, I looked up and saw someone vaguely shaped like my best friend. It’s bright toward the door, and dark where we were sitting so I couldn’t be a hundred percent sure but I stood up at attention anyway.

Jeff had invited her and her crew out to celebrate my birthday. Two things make this especially cute. One – the week before, my actual birthday, I actually cried because I really wanted Elycia there. I was bummed we had failed to make plans. Two – earlier in the morning, while at the coffee shop, I jokingly asked Jeff “When is Elycia getting here?”

I only cried a little but it warmed my heart big time! Jeff ran home to speed clean the house, something he had planned all along since he knows how important it is to me to have a clean house for guests. After Elycia and her family got coffee we headed off to the rest of the surprise plans for the day, visiting The Mansfield Reformatory. It’d been a few years since my last visit so I was super excited to go back, especially with my friends.

Ohio State Reformatory
Mansfield Reformatory

Mansfield Reformatory, also known as Ohio State Reformatory, is a historic prison that’s actually open for tours. The reformatory opened it’s doors originally in 1896. After 94 years, it eventually closed in December of 1990 as the result of a prisoners’ class action suit citing overcrowding and inhumane conditions. In it’s time it housed over 155,000 men! It has the largest free-standing steel cell block in the world, six tiers high.

In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed. Their goal is to restore the facility to its original state. Although the building still resembles an abandoned one, they’ve made great strides since opening the prison up to tourists. The smell of fresh paint was apparent during our visit and dumpsters full of debris were visible through some of the windows.

The history of this place is super interesting but I’d venture to say a lot of people that visit are probably just there because it’s where parts of The Shawshank Redemption were filmed. I mean that’s super exciting to me! Jeff and I watch that movie all the time. It’s one of our absolute favorites. Even if you’re not a fan though, the prison is still an incredibly fun spot to poke around.

Mansfield Reformatory
Shawshank Prison
Olive being dragged away to her prison cell. Her crime? Being too cute.

Visit The Ohio State Reformatory’s website for more information on the building + on the available tours. Ghost hunts, y’all, ghost hunts!

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1 comment

Sam August 19, 2019 - 10:23 am

OOh that place looks amazing! I love Shawshank, too – how cool to see a little of the filming locations. It’s incredible how BIG that place looks – spooky!

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