Ohio’s Most Haunted Prison


The Ohio State Reformatory, 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 1990, when a United States 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 for the majority of the movie.

The history of the Ohio State Reformatory began in 1861, the field where the Reformatory would be built was used as a training camp for Civil War soldiers. The camp’s name had significant meaning to Ohio as it was named Camp Mordecai Bartley in honor of the Mansfield man who served as Ohio governor in the 1840s.

In 1867, Mansfield was promoted as a candidate for the placement of the new Intermediate Penitentiary (the original name before it was changed to Ohio State Reformatory).



Visitors and employees have reported experiencing strong paranormal events in the administration wing. This is where Warden Glattke and his wife Helen resided and where she suffered a fatal bullet wound from a gun that accidentally fell to the floor.

Some claim that they have smelled rose perfume coming from Helen’s pink bathroom. Others have reported feeling a rush of cold air pass through them as they walk through the area.

It is not uncommon to hear of a jammed camera shutter, which inexplicably resumes working again once the visitor left the area.

Ted Glattke, the youngest son of Helen and Warden Glattke, has said, in response to these paranormal experiences, that most of the information written about his parents haunting Mansfield Reformatory is based on sensationalism and inaccurate stories.


The Chapel is the scene of many paranormal events. Many believe it is a nucleus for much of the prison’s haunting and ghost tales. Supposedly, before the area became the Chapel, it was used for executions. People have said that they have captured many orbs in photographs and that they have recorded strange, unidentifiable sounds when inside the Chapel. Spirits have been cited hanging around the doorways, but quickly vanish once their presence has been detected.


Many prisoners died miserable deaths in The Infirmary. It has been said that sick and dying inmates were left there without care, many who starved to death because they were too weak to fight off the thieves that stole their food.

This area is known in paranormal circles to set off EMF detectors and many claim to have captured clusters of orbs in photographs.  An unexplained gust of air passing by has also been reported by visitors in this area.


The spirit of a 14-year-old who was beaten to death in the basement has been spotted lingering among the decaying basement walls. Also spotted, is a guard who gives off sinister vibes.


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.


Visitors have reported seeing objects move in the graveyard and equipment failure is not uncommon there.


When prisoners were still housed at OSR, some of them said that they felt a woman pull their blankets up around them in a comforting way.


Located in the basement of the prison, The Hole was the ultimate punishment for unruly inmates. The cells were small and barren. Roaches and rats moved freely inside and outside of the cells.

A lot of negative paranormal activity has been reported in the 20 “hole” cells. Reports of sudden nausea, fever-like chills, and an uncomfortable feeling of being watched have occurred while visiting the area. It is perhaps the creepiest area of the prison.

Filming uses:

The facility has been used in many productions (even while it still held inmates), and perhaps became best-known when it was portrayed as Shawshank State Prison in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption.

  • In 2009 the facility was featured on Ghost Adventures in Season 3 Episode 4.[which?]
  • The front entrance was used in multiple episodes during Season 6 of House.
  • 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
  • The National Geographic Channel featured the prison on the show Inside: Secret America S1/Ep 05 for the episode “Ghosts” in 2013
  • Ghost Asylum on Destination America in 2015
  • In 2016 the reformatory was investigated and featured on The Hambone Show
  • David Allen Coe and The Moonshine Bandits (2017) Recorded a music video for “Take This Job and Shove It”
  • In 2017, nu-metal act, Motograter filmed a video for the song “Dorian”


Video:Is this Paranormal?