Ohio State Reformatory
The cornerstone laid on November 4, 1886 evolved into this magnificent Chateauesque structure. Cleveland architect Levi T. Scofield designed the Ohio State Reformatory using a combination of three architectural styles; Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Roma
100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield , OH 44905
Open to the public: Yes
Demographic Rank: 6
Vistor Rating: 4.6
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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.
The campaign for the prison began shortly after the end of the Civil War, but it wasn't until 1884 that the state legislature approved the creation of a prison to serve as an intermediate step between the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster and the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus. One year later, a board appointed by the governor selected Mansfield as the site.
The cornerstone laid on November 4, 1886 evolved into this magnificent Chateauesque structure. Cleveland architect Levi T. Scofield designed the Ohio State Reformatory using a combination of three architectural styles; Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne. The hauntingly beautiful architecture and design was crafted to be both alluring and mesmerizing, the Germanic-Romanesque style has given the building its nickname of Dracula's Castle. This was done to encourage inmates back to a "rebirth" of their spiritual lives. The architecture itself inspired them to turn away from their sinful lifestyle, and toward repentance. This grand structure is comprised of more than 250,000 square feet and houses the world's largest free-standing steel cell block.
The Reformatory doors were opened to its first 150 young offenders in September 1896. After housing over 155,000 men in its lifetime, the doors to the prison closed December 31, 1990.
Located in Mansfield, Ohio, the OSR houses the largest cell blocks found within the penal system. Standing six stories high, the East Cell block is the highest freestanding cell block in existence. At one time some of the cells within the building were only meant to house one prisoner at a time. However, over the years and with the influx of prisoners, they became over populated. These once cozy entrapments became stuffy and crowded due to doubling or tripling up on lodging.
Such close quarters often caused quarrels and acts of violence resulting in injuries and even fatalities.
Life for the prisoners was anything but ideal. Just as animals in the wild had to learn to adapt and survive in their surroundings, so did the occupants of the OSR. Shanks, shivs, dice, and other contraband were found within the crevices of the prisoner's cells. The inmates of the Reformatory were talented craftsman, making items such as tattoo guns out of a toothbrush, clock motor, ball point pen, bell wire, and duct tape.
Because the luxuries of the outside world were denied to them, they invented ways to indulge in comforts one would find within their own kitchen. Created by attaching two spoons together with bell wire and cardboard as insulation, inmates could use this "water warming" device to make many delightful cups of coffee. Prisoners were not the only inhabitants of the OSR that had to learn to adapt to an unusual living situation. Many of the wardens, assistant wardens, guards, and staff also lived on the premises while it was a working prison.
The front part of the facility on both of the east and west sides were considered "home sweet home." Living quarters, fit for a king, were fashioned for the warden and his family on the east side of the Administration quarters. With a flavor of Victorian style accenting the beautifully constructed wood work, these quarters housed many memories, especially for the children that grew up within its walls.
Eventually, after the prison was deemed unsatisfactory, it closed, and the State of Ohio decided it was going to tear down the iconic dwelling that once housed notorious criminals. However, before they could, the macabre demeanor of the building caught the eye of Hollywood Producers and in 1993, the infamous film, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, was filmed on site.
Over a span of about 20 years, the Reformatory has been cleaned, preserved, and restored by the MRPS, volunteers, and staff of the OSR. Because people love and value the history of this institution so much, they work all year round to help improve the conditions of the building so that the public is able to tour this magnificent building and understand what it was like to live and work within these confines.
Today the Ohio State Reformatory Historic Site receives visitors from all over the world. Every year tourists, movie buffs, thrill seekers and paranormal investigators walk through the halls of this majestic structure.
Movies and Videos Filmed at this location:
The Wind is Watching
Air Force One
Tango and Cash
Harry and Walter Go to New York
Welcome to the Asylum - Kronik and Zacarias (video)
The is the new sound - Anti Flag (video)
If you had a heart - Christy Angeletti (video)
Calm down - Purple Smoke Project (video)
Go DJ - Lil Wayne (video)
... and more
It is not just the movies/music videos that happen there though. It is also a hot spot for paranormal investigations and shows, including Ghost Hunters, Ghost adventures, Ghost Hunters Academy, My Ghost Story, Paranormal Challenge, Scariest Places On Earth, Paranormal groups, and of course Dark Shadow Ghost Tours.
They are also the location for the local vintage baseball team's homegames, halloween events and mystery dinners.
Before the facility was a prison, it had some historical relevance. More than 4,000 soldiers were trained for action in the Civil War at a camp which stood on the present site of the Mansfield Reformatory. Opened in August 1861, the training center was known as Camp Mordecai Bartley. It was named in honor of the Mansfield man who served as governor of Ohio in the 1840's. The camp was established on rolling land just north of the present main reformatory building and near the Tingley family home. A large spring at the site probably accounted for the selection of that spot as a training center since fresh water supply was a necessity. The spring has since been covered. The 32nd Regiment under Col. T.H. Ford was the first outfit to train at Camp Bartley. Seven hundred and 50 men had arrived here by late August 1861, and when the unit left for Camp Dennison in southern Ohio it took 16 railroad cars to transport the men.
Added by: sdonley on 12/31/2010
Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.
Stone walls and iron bars they're still here, but what of the humanity, if you can call it that, of the old Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield. What of the 154,000 inmates who passed through it's gates in it's 94 years as a working prison. Not to mention their keepers, the Wardens, and the Guards, the gravediggers, and the rest, what of them remains? As it turns out, more than you might think.
No matter what their crime, some sent to Mansfield have never left. They rest unclaimed in a cheerless graveyard just outside the fence. 215 numbered markers laid out row on row. Most were victims of disease, influenza, tuberculosis, but some died of less natural causes; From the violence, that is all to common inside any prison and was far from unknown in this one. And the worst of it occurred well away from the main cell block with their rows of cages stacked tier on tier, and inmates, one or two to a cell.
There were too many eyes, too many witnesses here, the worst of it was reserved for a far lonelier place, deep beneath the prison ground. A place called local control, or solitary, by some, known by everyone else as the hole. Near total isolation can crack all but the toughest of cons, but none was so alone that there wasn't room for death. At least one inmate managed to hang himself, another set himself on fire, once two men left too long in a single tomb like cell, only one walked out, leaving his cellmate's body behind, stuffed beneath a bunk.
Could there be other similar surprises? Or words left over from the days before the prison closed? Even when they're empty, some swear something walks these halls. It isn't enough for contemporary visitors not to wonder off alone while sight seeing, what's become one of Mansfield's more popular tourist attractions.
But the bloodiest single incident in the old prison's history occurred outside it's walls. In July 1948, when the Reformatory's farm boss, his wife and daughter were kidnapped and shot to death by two parolees bent on revenge. A six state manhunt for the so called mad-dog killers ended in a shootout that left Robert Daniels of Columbus in custody and his partner, James West dead. "I'll get the Chair" Daniels told police as he signed the confession. And on January 3rd, 1949, he did.
A year later in 1950 disaster struck again. This time, here in the living quarters of the Warden himself. The Warden's wife, removing a jewelry box from a closet shelf dislodged a pistol from it's hiding place. When it hit the floor, the gun went off inflicting a fatal wound. And within the decade, even more bad luck. The Warden, hard at work in his office, suffered a heart attack and died. All this was nearly 40 years ago and more, how then to explain the voices shaken tour guides swear they hear today? Man and woman talking, to faint to understand, to persistent to ignore and chilling to listeners who think they're alone, only to find themselves apparently eavesdropping on the warden and his wife locked forever in an endless conversation from beyond the grave.
Added by: sdonley on 10/01/2017
On June 26, 2014, Dark Shadow Ghost Tours took a group of 50 people to the Ohio State Reformatory for a nightly historical tour and ghost hunt. At the end of the event, we received several reports from the guest about paranormal activity they experienced duirng the historical tour and the ghost hunt. One of the most interesting events that we witnessed ourselves was with the tour group that we had. While we were up on the second floor within the cell blocks, one of the ladies within the group called out for help. As Marianne ran back to see what was wrong, she found the lady visibly shaken and highly upset. It took us several minutes to get her down off of the cell block and outside to calm down and relax. The lady explained that as she was walking along, she felt something tug at her jacket, then it grabbed her and pulled her into one of the cells. This was the very first ghost hunt the lady had ever been on, and she vowed that she would never go out again. We took her outside for fresh air and to have a cigarette (well multiple). It took her almost an hour to calm down just to come back into the building.
Added by: sdonley on 10/01/2017
Ghost Stories of Mansfield Reformatory
Visitors and employees have reported experiencing strong paranormal events in the administration wing where Warden Glattke and his wife Helen resided. The story is Helen, while reaching for a box in the closet, knocked a gun off the shelf to the floor, causing a bullet to discharge into her chest. She was rushed to the Mansfield General Hospital where she died as a result of her injuries.
Rumors ran rampant that Warden Glattke was responsible for Helen's death, but there was never any proof to substantiate such rumors. Ten years later Glattke suffered a heart attack and died at the same hospital where Helen died.
Some believe that Helen and Warden Glattke haunt the administration rooms to this day. The strong smell of Helen's rose perfume reportedly floats in and out of her pink bathroom. Visitors report felling a gush of cold air pass through them as the wander through this wing. It is not uncommon to hear of a jammed camera shutter, which unexplainably worked again once the visitor left the area.
Ted Glattke, the youngest son of Helen and Warden Glattke, has said that most of the information written about his parents haunting Mansfield Reformatory is based on sensationalism and inaccurate stories.
The Chapel is suspected of many paranormal events and some believe it is nucleus for much of the prison's haunting tales. Rumors that the Chapel was first an execution room, where inmates were tortured and died slow deaths while hanging from the rafters, may account for the many reported orbs photographed and the strange recordings some say they have captured in this area of the prison. Visitors have reported seeing spirits lingering near doorways, only to vanish once their presence is detected.
The infirmary where many prisoners died miserable deaths is known in paranormal circles to set off EMF detectors and claims of clusters of orbs have been captured in photographs. There have also been several reports from visitors that they have felt unexplained gushes of air pass by them.
The spirit of a 14-year-old who was beaten to death in the basement is said to linger in the dark crumbling hallways, which twist around the dark decaying basement. Also, the spirit of a former Reformatory employee named George is said to haunt the basement halls.
The Reformatory's library and a small inmate's graveyard are believed by some to be haunted. Visitors have reported seeing objects move in the graveyard and equipment failure is not uncommon in the library. Psychics visiting the library have reported seeing the spirit of a young woman, possibly Helen or a nurse who was killed by one of the prisoners.
Prisoners told of feeling someone tucking them in at night and it was rumored that the ghost of Helen or the nurse would moved in and out of the cells, bringing a touch of comfort to the inmates with a simple tuck of a blanket.
The hole, located in the basement of the prison, was a place where prisoners who broke the rules were kept in one of the 20 cells. Inmates would be kept in the dark, dank, roach-infested cells, with one or more inmates, with little to eat and no place of comfort to sleep.
Bread and water was the common meal with a lunch provided every three days. The stronger inmates would take the food from the weaker, leaving many to suffer hunger as well as other hardships.
Many prisoners died in the hole and some believe that their tortured spirits remain, prompting reports of negative paranormal energy in this area.
Visitors to this area sometimes leave after being overwhelmed with nausea. Others feel chills run through their bodies. The feeling of being watched permeates in the rooms and some have even reported seeing glowing eyes peering at them from dark corners.
Added by: sdonley on 06/24/2014
Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact PANICd.com, and we will review and add your information.
|Claim #||Added||Added By||Claim|
|1136||01/17/2011||sdonley||Cold spots are very common.|
|1137||01/17/2011||sdonley||Mysterious voices and footsteps are heard.|
|1138||01/17/2011||sdonley||In the room where the warden's wife was accidentally shot in the head and killed, some have reported feeling light-headed and not being alone.|
|1135||01/17/2011||sdonley||Apparitions and shadows reported.|
|1806||06/24/2014||sdonley||The spirit of a 14-year-old who was beaten to death in the basement is said to linger in the dark crumbling hallways.|
|1814||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the Hole, some have reported seeing glowing eyes peering at them from dark corners.|
|1813||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the Hole, the feeling of being watched permeates In the rooms.|
|1812||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the Hole, people feel chills run through their bodies.|
|1811||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the Hole, visitors leave after being overwhelmed with nausea.|
|1810||06/24/2014||sdonley||Prisoners told of feeling someone tucking them in at night in the cell blocks.|
|1809||06/24/2014||sdonley||Physics visiting the library have reported seeing the spirit of a young woman, possibly Helen a nurse who was killed by one of the prisoners.|
|1808||06/24/2014||sdonley||Equipment failure is not uncommon in the library.|
|1807||06/24/2014||sdonley||The spirit of the former Reformatory employee named George is said to haunt the basement halls.|
|1805||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the Infirmary, clusters of orbs have been captured in photographs.|
|1804||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the Infirmary, many have reported high EMF readings.|
|1803||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the chapel, numerous EVPs have been recorded.|
|1802||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the chapel, many orbs have been captured.|
|1801||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the chapel, visitors have reported seeing spirits lingering near doorways, only to vanish once their presence is detected.|
|1800||06/24/2014||sdonley||In the administrative area, it is not uncommon to hear of a jammed camera shutter, which unexplainably worked again once the visitor left the area.|
|1799||06/24/2014||sdonley||The smell of rose perform has been reported in the pink bathroom in the Warden's quarters.|
|1853||01/25/2015||sdonley||People have reported the feeling of oppression, instant sadness, or sickness.|
|1854||01/25/2015||sdonley||People have reported the smell of tobacco.|
|1855||01/25/2015||sdonley||Photographic anomalies have been captured throughout the building.|
Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.
To add evidence for a claim, you must submit it to PANICd.com for approval to be entered into the database.
This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.
Added: 12/31/2010 By: sdonley
|Here is the Wikipedia entry for this location.|
Added: 01/17/2011 By: sdonley
|Nice information about this location on the Dead Ohio website.|
Added: 01/17/2011 By: sdonley
|Web page about this location on Forgotten Ohio.|