Graveyard Shift
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11 Creepy Stories From Mansfield Reformatory, AKA Old Ohio State Penitentiary

April 5, 2017 36.0k views10 items

Plenty of ghost stories center around the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory. Built between the years of 1880 and 1910, it was originally considered one of the finest prisons in the United States, and is now known as one of the most haunted places in the Buckeye state. After the prison shut down in 1990, it became famous for several reasons -  The Shawshank Redemption was filmed there, and the spirits of long-dead prisoners wander the institution's halls. Over the course of the Mansfield Reformatory's existence, over 200 prisoners alone perished within its walls. 

The prisoners faced brutal treatment and deplorable living conditions; both became primary reasons behind the Mansfield Reformatory's shuttering, which still took 12 years after the lawsuit was filed. Even the areas surrounding Mansfield attract negative energy, with the road leading to the site haunted by the ghost of a woman who endured horrible events while living on that same road. In other words, the prison assembled the perfect breeding grounds for ghosts and paranormal phenomena. The Ohio State Penitentiary haunted tours occur around Halloween, attracting hundreds of brave souls who want to witness these ghosts for themselves, in a terrifying prison no less. However, these creepy Mansfield Reformatory stories may convince you to take a simple haunted hay ride instead.

  • Things Move On Their Own in the Inmates Graveyard

    Things Move On Their Own in the Inmates Graveyard
    Photo: Ian McKellar/Creative Commons / Flickr

    The prison cemetery, located near the building, contains the bodies of at least 200 prisoners killed with the Manfield Reformatory's walls. Some died of disease, others at the hands of the prison guards, their fellow prisoners, or even their own hands. The cemetery is reportedly hard to photograph, as most cameras stop working once visitors set foot on its grounds, and small items, like the metal grave markers, move around on their own, probably under the power of unseen hands.  

  • Unseen Hands Grab Visitors in the Chapel

    Unseen Hands Grab Visitors in the Chapel
    Photo: Rain0975/Creative Commons / Flickr

    The Chapel, despite its designation as a holy place, is just as haunted as anywhere else on the Mansfield Reformatory grounds. Spirits supposedly lurk throughout the space, showing up as ghostly orbs in photographs. When inside the Chapel, one hears phantom voices while eerie unseen hands grab at you as you attempt to walk out of the main room. 

  • A Prisoner Who Set Himself On Fire Haunts The Cell Block

    A Prisoner Who Set Himself On Fire Haunts The Cell Block
    Photo: Tom Hart/Creative Commons / Flickr

    The East cell blocks were once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest free-standing group of cells. Now, they hold just as many ghosts. One of these spirits belonged to a man who set himself on fire in his cell. He apparently doused himself with kerosene and lit a match. By the time the guards got to him, it was too late, and his skin already falling off in chunks. He haunts the cell where he died, sometimes showing himself to visitors. 

  • The Stairs To The Tower Host Some Unfriendly Entities

    The Stairs To The Tower Host Some Unfriendly Entities
    Photo: quiddle/Creative Commons / Flickr

    The stairs leading to the guard tower are haunted by unseen entities who push visitors, and these aren't any love taps either. Disembodied voices also permeate the area, but they pale in comparison to entities strong enough to violently shove grown men up and down the steps. Add in the stairs' steep and rickety structure, there's nothing "heavenly" about this stairway.