Housing 155,000 inmates over its 104 years of operation, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio commanded attention. Designed by Levi T. Scofield in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the exterior of the prison resembled the appearance of several castles in western Europe. Aptly, it received the nickname “Dracula’s Castle” for its gothic presentation.

I was thankful to have received the opportunity to pay a revisit to the prison made infamous by the filming of the Shawshank Redemption, which starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

What I admired the most was the work that the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society (MRPS) has conducted over the past decade in bringing the Ohio State Reformatory back to life. MRPS, as the caretaker of the former prison, offers guided and self-guided historical tours, programs focused on the paranormal, and bus tours of 11 Shawshank Redemption filming locations.

The Reformatory is far from abandoned. For the most part, MRPS essentially maintains the complex in an “as-is” condition, restoring select rooms in the administration building and warden quarters and leaving the remainder to decay gracefully. Untarnished walls and clean hardwood floors contrast with peeling paint and rusted steel bars elsewhere.

A visit to Ohio is not complete without a stop to the historic Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. Visit the official MRPS website for additional information.