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

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.

Photo: Rain0975 / flickr.com

  • A Dark Entity Lurks In The Chair Room

    A Dark Entity Lurks In The Chair Room
    Photo: Tom Hart/Creative Commons / Flickr

    The chair room, named after the sole piece of furniture in it, holds a dark spirit within its walls. The chair can be heard scraping around on the floor when no one is in the room, and a paranormal hunter received scratches from the ghost as he sat in the chair. Supposedly, the ghost dislikes the chair being moved by human hands; moving it to the center of room makes him mad, and he will push it back to the same creepy corner that it's sat in for years. 

  • The Ghost Of Helen Glattke Haunts The Administration Wing

    The Ghost Of Helen Glattke Haunts The Administration Wing
    Photo: Tom Hart/Creative Commons / Flickr

    As the story goes, Helen Glattke, wife of Warden Glattke, haunts the Adminstration Wing of the building. She was killed in 1950, when a gun fell onto the floor and left her with a fatal bullet wound. Now, rose-scented perfume wafts from a bathroom she once occupied, cold spots are felt in the sealed hallways, and visitors' cameras cease to work until they leave the wing. Sometimes the voices of Helen and her husband can reportedly be heard in the area. 

  • The Basement Holds Spirits Both Young And Old

    The Basement Holds Spirits Both Young And Old
    Photo: quiddle/ Creatuve Commons / Flickr

    The basement of the Mansfield Reformatory is one of the creepiest places in the building. The spirit of a fatally beaten 14-year-old boy allegedly appears down there, alongside a prison guard with a malicious presence.

  • Don't Go Into The Hole

    Don't Go Into The Hole
    Photo: Rain0975/ Creative Commons / Flickr

    The Hole, as you can imagine, is synonymous with solitary confinement. Located in the basement of the prison, the hole was where the worst prisoners went, where they were tortured, sometimes to death, by prison guards. An infamous incident occurred where two prisoners were sent to the hole together, and only one emerged.

    At one point, over 100 prisoners were crammed into this tiny space designed for 20. As a result, the hole is allegedly filled with creepy spirits who cause cold spots, nausea, make people feel as though an unseen person is breathing down their necks, and generally cause extreme discomfort. 

  • 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.