ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Haunted Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield

Updated on June 4, 2011

The Ohio State Reformatory is located in Mansfield, Ohio and was originally built as a reformatory for young delinquents in 1896. It went on to house prisoners who over the years were increasingly violent offenders. Many people are familiar with the Mansfield Reformatory because it was used as the prison in the Shawshank Redemption movie. It is also touted as being one of the "Scariest Places on Earth" according to Fox Family Channel. Recently I had the opportunity to go on a private ghost hunt of this supposedly haunted prison, and the following is what I learned on my trip to this very old, very creepy building.

Photos of Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of the center tower, front of building, nighttimeOhio State Reformatory at Mansfield Historical MarkerEast wing, front entranceView of side east entrance to the Mansfield ReformatoryView from first floor of jail area. The cells are to the left, the brick fireplaces are on the right.West wing, front entranceWest wing view
View of the center tower, front of building, nighttime
View of the center tower, front of building, nighttime | Source
Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield Historical Marker
Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield Historical Marker | Source
East wing, front entrance
East wing, front entrance | Source
View of side east entrance to the Mansfield Reformatory
View of side east entrance to the Mansfield Reformatory | Source
View from first floor of jail area. The cells are to the left, the brick fireplaces are on the right.
View from first floor of jail area. The cells are to the left, the brick fireplaces are on the right. | Source
West wing, front entrance
West wing, front entrance | Source
West wing view
West wing view | Source

My friend and I entered the prison grounds slightly before sunset. The building is enormous and gothic-looking. It is located adjacent to two other working prisons, so very few photos can be taken of the building. There are plenty of corrections officers around to ensure you don’t take any photos of prisoners walking around the yards, so if you ever have a chance to visit this prison don’t even try to take photos outside of the “approved” areas. For avid ghost hunters this can be a bummer – the burial grounds for prisoners (O. Henry Field) is off limits.

At the Beginning

I booked a ghost hunt in this prison through Troy Taylor’s website. He does a great job of putting together hunts in unusual places, which usually includes access to areas that are off limits to the general public. At the Mansfield Reformatory we had virtually a full run of the place; the only areas off limits were those that were literally falling apart, and who wants to break a leg in the dark?

We were given a tour of the building by a very knowledgeable guide, and at that point of our tour the place had all of the lights on. We were told all about the most prominent deaths on the premises, local lore and the truth about a few of the deaths on the property unrelated to the prisoners. After this tour, we were guided to the meeting room (former prison cafeteria), where we were given all the pizza we could eat along with unlimited cold drinks and coffee (and no, there wasn’t any alcohol allowed, though some screaming ghost hunters probably could have used a stiff drink).

After the Guided Tour...

After our guided tour was over, it was lights out… literally. All of the lights in the building were turned out, with the exception of the common meeting area, which was just off the bullpen. Since this building was so large, our ghost hunting group of about 50 people quickly dispersed in search of ghosts and orbs. My friend and I decided to start at the chapel, which is located on one of the uppermost floors. Our thought was that it would be easier to start at the top of this structure and work our way down. This was probably one of the best ideas we had the entire evening as there is a lot of climbing stairs to get around the Mansfield Reformatory.

After an uneventful visit to the chapel which had most recently been used as a gym, we started our descent through the four stories of jail cells that comprised most of the wing of the building. We silently prayed that we wouldn’t fall off of the scaffolding that was being used during the current renovations. According to our tour guide, one such disaster had occurred when the prison was in use. Inmates were coming back from dining and were walking on scaffolding which collapsed mid-air. More than a dozen inmates lost their lives in the accident. We walked briskly on the two-foot wide walkway next to the open cells. The only thing lighting our way were our lights that clipped on the bill of our baseball caps. I don’t mind saying that we walked briskly because of the sheer creepiness of the area. You could almost feel eyes watching you as you passed certain cells.

We briefly visited the library and the shower areas before heading back to the bullpen. The shower is reported to be haunted – several people have reported that they’ve been touched or had their hair pulled while in the room. The library still had old records and a few books lying on the circulation desk. For us, no ghosts touched us or yanked our hair.

The infirmary, which was previously closed to the public, was also uneventful. Apparently some people have taken photos of orbs or felt a presence in this area. I however, felt nothing.

After exploring these areas we found our way back to the bullpen and sought coffee to warm up. Visiting this old prison in the spring, despite the 60 degree temperatures did nothing for us once indoors. The prison was 15 to 20 degrees colder than the outdoor temperatures, and the building is damp. Drinking coffee was imperative to take the chill off.

Our next plan was to check out the solitary confinement (aka "the hole") area. At the entrance to this area it doesn’t seem so bad. The first cells weren’t that small and there was still some light streaming in the area from the bullpen. However, the further you walked away from the entrance, the darker and narrower the passages became. The smell of the dampness and dirt did nothing to improve the area. The cells also became smaller and if you’re claustrophobic, this isn’t the place for you to be. I’m claustrophobic and couldn’t wait to get out of this part of the building. I can honestly say that this, to me, was the scariest part of the building. You couldn’t see more than a foot in front of you, even with a flashlight. I think the ghosts in this place want you to feel as scared as they did when they were put in there.

Haunted Warden's Quarters

No doubt, many of you interested in the Mansfield Reformatory have heard the story about the Warden and the ghost of his wife who apparently still haunt their old living quarters on the site. The true story is often lost in the lore told second hand. The true story is as follows.

Warden Lewis Glattke and his wife, Helen, lived in the Mansfield Reformatory (as did all wardens and assistant wardens while it was in operation). Helen was reaching up into the cupboard of her closet for a box when a gun fell to the floor, discharging. A bullet entered Helen's chest. However, Helen did not die on the premises, as is often reported. She was transported to a local hospital where she was treated for her wound. Unfortunately, she died from pneumonia as a complication of her wounds. Her husband, the warden, was never charged with murder in her death.

As a side note, I looked in the closet where the accident took place. There are cupboards that have doors that open down instead of opening out. If something was placed just inside one of these cupboards, the action of pulling the door open could easily explain how a gun near the edge of the cupboard would easily fall out and onto the floor. The closet is not very wide, though the ceilings are very high. The cupboards are difficult to get open if you are a short person, since they are placed overhead.

Warden Glattke died nine years after his wife; his death was caused by a heart attack. He did not die on the premises either, but rather in the local hospital where his wife died.

According to some ghost hunters, Helen's floral perfume can still be smelled in her pink bathroom. Their son's room, at the time of this writing, still has the wallpaper with toy cars on it. It is hard to imagine being a child living in a prison, even with the large living areas within the Warden's Quarters.


Tips for a Visit or Ghost Hunt

Based on my own experience, here's what I would advise to anyone visiting the Mansfield Reformatory:

  • Visit during the day before doing a ghost hunt. This place is HUGE and it may be helpful to learn the layout during the daylight hours before wandering around in the dark.
  • Wear the most comfortable shoes you can find. There is a lot of walking involved and some uneven areas to navigate as well. In the dark it gets even harder, especially in areas like "the hole."
  • Bring flashlights that can be used hands free, like the ones that clip onto a hat. You'll need your hands to steady yourself in the dark when navigating some of the scaffolding and stairways.
  • Bring more than one camera, or bring lots of batteries for your camera. The juice seems to get drained pretty quickly in this building. Perhaps ghosts are really battery juice junkies!
  • Dress warmly for ghost hunts held in the evening. This building is very chilly and damp feeling. I would advise jeans (no shorts) and a sweatshirt for evening ghost hunts.
  • Wear a vest with lots of pockets if going ghost hunting. It frees up your hands for other things and gives you a place to put all your gear where it can be easily grabbed.
  • Read the rules for ghost hunts on the Mansfield Reformatory's website. There are LOTS of rules regarding your visit to this historical building, too numerous to enter here.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Gerber Ink profile imageAUTHOR

    Charlotte Gerber 

    7 years ago from upstate New York

    Hi Nell & Kitty, Thanks for dropping by my hub. I think my visit would have been greatly enhanced by visiting it during the daytime first! It was a great old building with lots of interesting stories.

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Kitty Fields 

    7 years ago from Summerland

    gerber ink - great hub and right up my alley! I've never actually heard of this haunted reformatory before, so you taught me something new in the world of the paranormal. If I ever visit Ohio I will make a point to do a haunted tour here. Great spooky stuff. :)

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    7 years ago from England

    Hi, I love visiting old places, especially ones meant to be haunted, but not sure I'd want to go around this one! lol great hub, cheers nell

  • Gerber Ink profile imageAUTHOR

    Charlotte Gerber 

    7 years ago from upstate New York

    Thanks Sangre - I would have had more photos of the indoors, but my batteries kept dying.

  • Gerber Ink profile imageAUTHOR

    Charlotte Gerber 

    7 years ago from upstate New York

    Thanks Viking305 - not sure if I'm really brave, or merely foolish. ;)

  • sangre profile image

    Sp Greaney 

    7 years ago from Ireland

    It's great to see such places with so much history to them been open to the public. I remember that movie. Love your photos. Great hub..

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 

    7 years ago from Ireland

    Very interesting hub about your trip the the Mansfield Reformatory. I must say you are a lot braver than me.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)