Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Ohio State Reformatory

100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905, USA
Way back in 2019 (pre-Covid life - remember that?), we took a day trip to Mansfield Reformatory. I had always wanted to go there, and when my friend Mandi said that we should plan a day trip I jumped at the chance. At the time I had started working a second job at Starbucks. It was a Sunday, and to that point I had never worked a Sunday. However, when the schedule came out, wouldn't you know that I was scheduled to work. Thankfully, my friend was able to cover the second part of my shift. While we didn't get to leave earlier, we still made it to Mansfield before it closed. 
The Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) is about an hour and some minutes from Cleveland. It's not a far drive, and definitely worth it for a day trip. Before it was an actual prison, the OSR's land was originally a training camp for Civil War soldiers. After Mansfield was chosen to be the site of a new penitentiary in 1867, construction of the building began in 1886. Because of funding problems, it wasn't completed until 1910. Despite the long time for completion, the prison opened its doors to its first inmates in 1896. It remained a prison until December 1990 when the federal government ordered its closure due to overcrowding and inhumane conditions.
Since its closure, the OSR has been the site of a number of films, most notably Shawshank Redemption. Fun fact, I didn't even see Shawshank Redemption until after we had visited the site. One of my favorite parts of visiting were all the Russian signs and decor from the movie Air Force One. It actually felt like I could have been in a Russian prison with all the peeling paint. 
Despite being such a creepy place, I enjoyed visiting. It felt abandoned without the dangers of actually being abandoned. I really liked walking around the cells because of the peeling paint and overall look. It's hard to imagine being there day after day. The prison also reminded me of Ellis Island, which is saying a lot about Ellis Island I guess. The most harrowing part was the isolation wing. It was dark and eerie. I tried to take photos but they didn't come out to well because of the lighting and the cramped spaces. 
I would 100% recommend visiting the Ohio State Reformatory. Make sure you give yourselves several hours to walk through, and do so on a full stomach and after ingesting some caffeine. Luckily, going to visit after a shift at Starbucks gave me the energy yo walk through the museum.
Have you ever been to the Ohio State Reformatory? What was your favorite part?

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