Ohio State Reformatory

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Ohio State Reformatory
Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio
Ohio State Reformatory is located in Ohio
Ohio State Reformatory
Location Olivesburg Road, Mansfield, Ohio
Coordinates 40°47′07″N 82°30′18″W / 40.78528°N 82.50500°W / 40.78528; -82.50500Coordinates: 40°47′07″N 82°30′18″W / 40.78528°N 82.50500°W / 40.78528; -82.50500
Area 40 acres (16 ha)
Built 1886
Architect Levi T. Scofield
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 83002039[1]
Added to NRHP April 14, 1983

The Ohio State Reformatory (OSR), also known as the Mansfield Reformatory, is a historic prison located in Mansfield, Ohio in the United States. It was built between 1886 and 1910 and remained in operation until a 1990 federal court ruling (the 'Boyd Consent Decree') ordered the facility to be closed. While this facility was used in a number of films (including several while the facility was still in operation), TV shows and music videos, it was made famous by the film The Shawshank Redemption (1994) when it was used in the large panning scene and for the Warden's office.


The facility was built between 1886 and 1910 and was opened on September 15, 1896 to its first 150 young inmates that were brought from Columbus by train. The original architect for the design was Levi T. Scofield from Cleveland,[2] although the creation and construction of the entire building was entrusted to F.F. Schnitzer, whose name also appears on the cornerstone, and is recorded as Superintendent in documents found in the cornerstone.[3] Schnitzer was presented with a silver double inkwell by the governor of the state in a lavish ceremony to thank him for his services. The exterior of the building, which is built from brick and concrete, is designed in the Romanesque style giving the frontage a castle-like appearance.

Interior, cell-block windows

The Reformatory remained in full operation until December 1990 when it was closed via federal court order. As the result of a prisoners' class action suit citing overcrowding and inhumane conditions (Boyd v. Denton, C.A. 78-1054A (N.D.Oh.)), District Judge Frank J. Battisti of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ordered the prison closed by the end of December 1986.[4] This order was known as the Boyd Consent Decree. The closing date was moved to 1990 due to delays in constructing the replacement facility, which stands to the west of the old prison, the Mansfield Correctional Institution.

Most of the grounds and support buildings, including the outer wall, have been demolished since the closing. In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed. They have turned the prison into a museum and conduct tours to help fund grounds rehabilitation projects and currently work to stabilize the buildings against further deterioration. [5]

The East Cell Block remains the largest free standing steel cell block in the world at six tiers high. From 1935 until 1959 Arthur Lewis Glattke was the Superintendent. Initially a political appointment following Glattke's work on the Martin Davey campaign, by all accounts Glattke was respected by professionals and inmates alike. He implemented many reforms such as piped in radio music in the cell blocks. Glattke's wife, Helen Bauer Glattke, died of pneumonia three days following an accident in November 1950 where a handgun discharged when she was reaching into a jewelry box in the family's quarters. Glattke died following a heart attack suffered in his office on February 10, 1959. Over 200 people died at the OSR, including a two guards who were killed during escape attempts.

Restoration and tours[edit]

Single cell

The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society is currently working to restore the facility to its original state. Restorations to date include the removal of debris, replacement of roofing, complete restoration of the Warden's quarters, as well as the complete restoration of the central guard room between the East and West Cell Blocks. The restorations are being funded through donations and tour fees. The windows of the south side east cell block have been replaced, as well as all of the original stained glass windows that were in the building have been repaired and are currently being re-installed in the building.

Movies and television[edit]

The facility gained fame when it served as Shawshank State Prison in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

The facility has also been used in many other productions (even while it still held inmates), such as:

  • Harry and Walter Go to New York (1975) - Harry and Walter spend some time behind bars at the penitentiary, when the prison was still in operation.
  • Tango & Cash (1989) - The facility was used for various prison scenes.
  • The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - The prison was used in the large panning scene, the warden's office, and an officers' quarters was used to shoot Brooks' apartment.
  • Air Force One (1997) - The prison was used for scenes of a Russian prison for General Ivan Radek.
  • Godsmack "Awake" music video 2000.
  • Marilyn Manson promotional photography, 1996 - Frontman, Brian Hugh Warner, grew up in Canton, Ohio.
  • Ohio State Reformatory has been the subject of numerous paranormal investigation shows, including the Fox Family Channel's Scariest Stories on Earth, and Scariest Places On Earth.
  • The Travel Channel did a tourism documentary on the OSR.
  • In 2005, The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) investigated the facility for the SciFi Channel's TV series Ghost Hunters.
  • In 2004 Lil Wayne featured this prison in his video for the song "Go DJ".
  • In April 2006 the horror/thriller motion picture Fallen Angels (2007) was filmed almost entirely at OSR. The film featured many genre favorites.
  • WWE shot a promotional poster featuring Triple H for their 2008 Judgment Day event in the facility.
  • In 2009 the facility was featured on "Ghost Adventures", where the crew received multiple equipment problems, such as charged batteries inexplicably draining.
  • In 2010, the facility was used for an episode of Ghost Hunters Academy.
  • It is the filming place for the music video of the song "Relentless Chaos" by Miss May I.
  • The Purple Smoke Project (Hip hop group) filmed a video for the song "Calm Down" in 2011
  • Attack Attack shot a portion of their video "Smokahontas" in 2011
  • Anti-Flag shot the majority of their video for "The New Sound" in the prison


External links[edit]