The Ohio State Reformatory Historic Site in Mansfield is the largest castle-like building in all of Ohio. CONNIE POST/STAFF
Photo: Connie Post
Photo: Connie Post

WORTH THE DRIVE: Ohio State Reformatory offering up next-level scares

Mansfield region has plenty to offer visitors this month

The Ohio State Reformatory, the setting for the Hollywood classic, “The Shawshank Redemption,” is a big reason Mansfield has been designated the Haunted Capital of Ohio.

According to legend, the castle-like prison, built in 1886, is reported to be haunted by an old guard killed in solitary confinement who still jabs visitors with his nightstick. 

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Photo: Contributing Writer

Like to see for yourself? Two-hour guided tours and private paranormal investigations can be scheduled. And now through Nov. 3, each Thursday and Sunday night visitors are challenged to Escape from Blood Prison, an evening inside a “haunted hellscape.” Ticket prices range from $25 to $45 and can be purchased online.

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(Eingeschränkte Rechte für bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.) Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Innenansicht- 1911veröffentlicht: Nr. 7/1911 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Photo: ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild via Getty Images

If being terrified isn’t your thing, there are other events at the reformatory throughout the year including mystery dinners, ghost hunts and guided tours and self-guided tours, including a history meets Hollywood tour, an East cell block tour and a behind the scenes tour. Visit to explore all of the various options for an Ohio State Reformatory visit.

Scary monsters come to life inside of the Robert Kurtzman s Creature Corps studios. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN
Photo: Contributing Writer

Regardless of the reason for your visit you are sure to feel the history and soak up the stories in this impressive building that has been home to many over the years.

While you’re there in the Mansfield area, there are plenty of wonderful places to explore.

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34 Park Ave. W, Mansfield, OH 44902

(419) 525-2491

Everywhere you turn there is something to see in this eclectic museum. The star of the show is Elektro, the “Moto-Man,” who took captivated hearts and minds at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and is the oldest surviving electrical robot in the world. From memorabilia to crazy taxidermy to pioneer photography to more than 600 model planes in chronological order from the Wright Brothers through Dessert Storm, this museum has a little something for everyone.


75 N. Main St., Mansfield

(419) 522-4223

Located in the heart of downtown Mansfield is the Richland Carrousel — the first new, hand-carved carousel to be built and operated in the United States since the 1930’s. Over four million rides have been given since the summer of 1991. It’s a special throwback and surprise and a wonderful scenic setting. Look for the peg leg pirate cat hidden among more than 50 other animals. 


1285 Hanley Road W, Mansfield

(419) 884-1797

If you’re looking for a great place to refresh yourself, this is the spot. The Blueberry Patch boasts more than 10,000 square-feet of shopping, a winery, coffee shop, cafe all on a working blueberry farm — Ohio’s largest — that sells 175,000 blueberry plants each year in July and August. This is the spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. There are plenty of blueberry dishes on the menu, but there’s lots of others as well.

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4050 Bromfield Road, Lucas

(419) 892-2784

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield built Malabar Farm in 1939. It is most famous for being the location of the wedding and honeymoon for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall on May 21, 1945. It’s a beautiful, picturesque setting and a fun one to tour around with a guide. After your tour head to nearby Mount Jeez Overlook for views of Ashland, Knox and Richland counties and take in breathtaking views of the landscape that stretches forward in front of your eyes. Malabar Farm Restaurant — — is also close by and a great place to grab dinner and watch the sun set.


Head to the spots where Red, Andy, Brooks and Heywood once stood in scenes from one of the best film’s out there. Most of the Shawshank Redemption was filmed on locations in Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky. Visit to figure out the route you want to take to see the 14 filming sites including Malabar Farm and The Ohio State Reformatory and hit the road.


What: Escape from Blood Prison at The Ohio State Reformatory

When: Gates Open at 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 3

Where: 100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield

Cost: $25-45 per person

More information: 419-522-2644, ext. 100 or

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