Haunted Ohio State Reformatory

Mansfield, OH, is home to the 120+ year old Ohio State Penitentiary, best known for being the location of the movie Shawshank Redemption.  A tragic yet beautiful structure, I found this location to be well worth the time, money, and effort to get here.



The land upon which the penitentiary sits was once used as a Civil War training ground under the name of Camp Bartley beginning in 1861.   Later, the ominous and formidable structure that now stands was originally built as a boys' reformatory before becoming the Ohio State Penitentiary.  

Having housed 155,000 inmates over it's lifetime, you can imagine the energy and memories housed within.  Many inmates died here as evidenced by the 215 markers in the prison graveyard.  Some died of natural causes, some of disease, and many more from violence.  One inmate hanged himself while one is known to have set himself on fire on one of the upper tiers.


The Ghosts

Among the inmates that died within the walls of the prison, it is believed that a warden and his wife haunt the administration wing.  The warden's wife died when a gun was accidentally fell off of a shelf and shot her; the warden subsequently died of a heart attack in the same area a few years later.

Solitary is believed to house the spirits of inmates that suffered irreversible trauma by the isolation and poor living conditions they experienced there.  A cell in one of the upper tiers is believed to still be home to an inmate that set himself on fire.....the burn marks are still visible right outside his cell.

Lastly, on the grounds outside the penitentiary, a reformatory farm boss, his wife, and daughter were kidnapped and shot by two parolees.  Unusual sights and sounds on the grounds as well as in the prison graveyard have been reported by many individuals over the years.

Inside one of the cells

Inside one of the cells

My Experience

My experience at the Ohio State Reformatory was better than I expected considering I went on a public hunt.  At the time, my paranormal research team was relatively new and I didn't think I had enough interest to justify the expense of a private hunt.  The public hunt was well attended as you can imagine with some of the attendees being more interested in having fun than actual paranormal research.  Still, it was worth the trip because most people were gone by 1 am and the only ones left were about a dozen of us who were true hardcore  paranormal investigators.

Most of the activity I experienced was in Solitary Confinement.  Down in the basement area with no windows, pitch black doesn't even begin to describe the darkness (I couldn't even see my hand in front of my own face).  I set up a laser grid and sat on the floor waiting for quite a while--more than an hour as I recall--before I began to notice something.  I saw a shadow figure blocking out out points in my laser grid down near the end.  It did not respond consistently so I can't say whether it might be residual or an intelligent haunt.

The visiting area

The visiting area

I also saw some light anomalies in one of the showers but it is hard to know if that was real since there are high windows in that area.  Being open to the outside, pollen and bugs are an inevitable threat to good video or photo evidence.  Also, being set back from the road, sound can still be picked up from the street although it is not a very big street and did not seem busy.  Still I think it is worth noting for the purpose of thorough debunking.

The reformatory is quite a sight and very much worth the trip in my opinion.  Now that my paranormal team is six years old and we have traveled to many locations around the United States, the Ohio State Penitentiary is definitely on our list of places to go.  While this place might be a tad pricey for smaller teams, I think it is worth partnering up to get access to this great location.

May you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday and I hope you make this beautiful day count!

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