Haunted Mansfield Reformatory

by Walt Bissell

The Mansfield Reformatory, (also known as the Ohio State Reformatory) is a historic prison located at 100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield, Ohio, USA. The Reformatory was built between 1886 and 1910 by architect Levi T. Scofield, from Cleveland.

Mansfield ReformatoryThe prison was designed in Romanesque Revival style to look like the old world castles and cathedrals in Germany. It was built on the site of a former Civil War camp, Camp Mordecai Bartley. OSR is known for having the world’s tallest free-standing, steel cell block, at six tiers high. The OSR was built as an intermediate prison between the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster and the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus. It was used for first time offenders, the more hardened criminals were sent to the Ohio Penitentiary. On September 17, 1896 the first 150 inmates were brought to the OSR.

Mansfield Prison CellBy the early 1930s the prison was extremely overcrowded and outdated. However, it was not until the 1980s that the OSR was deemed unfit to serve as a prison. The state officially stopped using it as a prison in December of 1990.

From 1935 until 1959 Arthur Lewis Glattke was the Superintendent. Glattke's wife, Helen Bauer Glattke, died three days following an accident in November 1950 when a handgun discharged as she was reaching into a jewelry box. Rumors have it that the warden actually murdered his wife and a huge cover up ensued. Glattke died following a heart attack suffered in his office on February 10, 1959. The Reformatory has an incredible list of haunted tales that are part of its long history, probably because over 200 people died within the walls of the prison over a long period of time. Many were murdered, others committed suicide and a few guards were killed during escape attempts.

OSR is supposedly haunted with several paranormal "hotspots" such as the two chapels, the area around the warden's office, the infirmary and solitary confinement. The cell that is marked with an "X" has also been reported to have unusual activity. The ghosts of both warden Glattke and his wife Helen are reported to haunt the reformatory's east administration building. Many orbs and mists have been photographed in the administrative wing over the years. Visitors to this wing have felt cold air spots while wandering its halls and have complained of camera malfunctions. The sound of slamming cell doors and someone running through the halls have been reported. Almost every visitor feels as though they are being watched from many of the cells. The Chapel is also an area of high paranormal activity. Orbs, mists, equipment failures, and mysterious shadows are just some of the strange events that occur here. Some people believe that the Chapel was used as an execution chamber before being converted into a place of worship.

Haunted Mansfield ReformatoryThe facility gained fame when it served as Shawshank State Prison in the 1994 movie, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, and was the site of the Hollywood production of Air Force One.

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. (As of this writing) Mansfield Reformatory tours are given Tuesday through Friday at 2pm, as well as in the afternoons on Sundays starting every 15 minutes. The last tour is at 4:45pm on Sundays. Tours are only available in the summer, starting around Memorial Day. For an unguided tour, adult guests can take part in ghost hunts in the summer for a $50 fee. Guests will be given free-range of the castle armed with only flashlights for the hours between 7:30pm and 6am. Guests can leave at anytime, but may not re-enter. These dates in the summer sell out very quickly. Today the location serves as a hot spot for haunted house goers offering the "Haunted Prision Experience" during the month of October.

Ghost Pictures Taken at the Mansfield Reformatory:
Mansfield Reformatory Ghost Picture
Mansfield Reformatory Ghost Photograph
Mansfield Prison Ghost Picture

For More Information, Visit the:
Mansfield Reformatory Official Site