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“We'll be back”

Ohio State Reformatory
Ranked #1 of 3 Tours in Mansfield
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Built in 1886 for young offenders, this castle-like prison is now listed on the national register of historic places and offers guided tours.
Level 6 Contributor
120 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“We'll be back”
Reviewed May 19, 2011

My husband and I stopped here on our way home from Prospect Place the night before. We did a self guided tour for $8 a person. Not a bad price for all that you get to see. I have wanted to visit the reformatory for quite some time so I took my time going through. You start off in the living quarters of the warden/assistant warden and offices. After that you make your way to the chapel, and then on to the east wing, solitary confinement, and west wing. It took us about 3 hours to get through it taking our time. The building is massive and beautiful. Everything down to the closets in the bedrooms have to be seen. The catwalks and cells are pretty creepy, always feeling like there's somebody behind you. Solitary confinement was the most creepy, because it was so dark. It's neat to see where the Shawshank Redemption scenes were shot. Brooks' apartment, especially. The staff seemed kind of...relaxed, which I liked. There wasn't anybody watching you on the tour so you could take your time and not have your ear talked off if you're not interested in a history lesson. We plan on visiting again for a ghost hunt!

Visited May 2011
2 Thank AimeeKB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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551 reviews from our community

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English first
Level 6 Contributor
107 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“No Rattling Chains, But Watch Out For The Screams”
Reviewed March 21, 2011

If you're into the paranormal and old prisons at night, consider getting tickets for an overnight ghost hunt. Tickets are $65 and do go fast. (Sold out for 2011 - Tickets go on sale 10/1 for 2012 year) Late night pizza and drinks are offered as well. (Since the hunt starts at 8 pm, I think 10 pm is a bit early for munchies, but you could get nothing.)

For your admission, you can opt for a brief tour of the place before you start hunting. I do recommend the tour although it could be a bit longer in my opinion. You'll walk through the administration buildings and prison before they turn off the lights and send you off to find things that go bump in the night.

The maps provided are a bit useless, so you will find yourself getting turned about pretty easy especially in the dark. There is no heat in the prison, so if you don't want to deal with the cold, snow and ice (in areas windows are broken so outside elements will come in) you may opt for something a bit later in the year.

Maximum number of people on the tour is 100. I would say there were about 60 on the tour I was on. For the most part people were respectful if you were recording, taking pics, etc. but there were the idiots that had to be loud which could be disruptive at times. That's not the tours fault.

As for the big question, is Ohio State Reformatory haunted? In short, yes. I captured many EVPs that had distinct walking, screams, bangs, etc. that were not audible at the time and even encountered a full body apparition. For those who are skeptic, that's okay. The spirits will like you best! :)

Visited March 2011
3 Thank mzdov
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vandalia, Ohio
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Neat place, too pricey”
Reviewed October 26, 2010

Tour was decent. Thought it would be more to it. I wanted to mention I did a ghost hunt @ the bissman building on main st. Downtown & thought it was better than this. I would recommend going to the bissman rather than wasting ur time here.

1 Thank glynholmes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United States
Level 6 Contributor
224 reviews
143 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 260 helpful votes
“Unique Experience”
Reviewed October 25, 2010

We have visited the Mansfield Reformatory for several years. The building itself is a huge castle like structure and there is a lot of walking and stair climbing. When we took our first tour years ago there was no mention of ghosts or paranormal; it was strictly about the history of the building and its previous inhabitants. The tour was informative, fun and unique. However, as the years have gone by the Reformatory has definitely commercialized. Gone are the days when you could get a tour with absolutely no wait time. Now, the tours are incredibly busy! Our tour guide told us that there was an increase of visitors since one of the reality ghost shows had been there and it had aired earlier that summer and that’s why there was a ridiculous amount of people. When we took our tour this past summer we got there one half hour before it opened and the line of cars already there was unbelievable! The gate wasn’t even open yet. There really was no space for our car so we ate lunch and came back. We waited in line for a long time and then got the last tour time possible.

Let me explain….During the week they only have one afternoon tour everyday (a general tour); however, on Sunday they are supposed to give several tours covering different parts of the building at different times. The day we were there they told us that they did not have enough volunteers and were making all tours that day into a general tour. Meaning we didn’t get to pick which area we wanted to see. We have already taken the general tour and all but one of the special tours. We were there to take the last special tour that we had not been on yet. However, it wasn’t until after we were standing at the cash register that they told us this. I wish that they had noted this on their website which I checked that morning or at least put a sign at the front gate. However, we drove quite a ways so we decided to do the general tour again. There were so many people on the tour that we could barely hear the tour guide. On top of that it was 90 degrees and everyone was crammed into small rooms at some points. The weird thing was that there were 2 or 3 Reformatory volunteers following at the end of the group I guess to make sure everyone stayed where they were supposed to; however, I saw one of them on their cell phone constantly and not really paying attention. At one point, it seemed they got confused where our group ended and another group began. It really just seemed silly to have them there.

All in all, it is definitely a grand place to visit. It is most certainly a unique experience. A lot of work has been done since we started visiting. They have cleaned up a lot of the areas and removed some of the peeling lead paint. However, there is still a lot of debris in some areas. They have completely redone the main area now and have glass walls blocking each wing so they can host parties or gatherings. The glass walls kind of take away from the experience though; that area doesn’t have the authenticity that it used to have. Also, because there is still a lot of lead paint and for safety reasons, they say that the tour is not recommended for very small children or pregnant women. Oddly, however, on our last tour we saw several of both. They have these recommendations for a reason.

It’s not really that expensive to visit. It’s only $8 a person and on the Sundays that they do have enough volunteers for the special tours it’s another $5 if you want to take a second tour. So, it’s definitely a great way to spend a day if you like history and adventure. Just be prepared for possibly large crowds.

2 Thank funinthesun037
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ludlow, Kentucky, USA
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Caveat Emptor, My Paranormal Chums”
Reviewed August 25, 2010

The ingenius team at this haunted locality is not very efficient--by the way, why are you bothering them? Expect no accountability for service, of any kind, and prepare to be teleported at breakneck speed to the OSR gift shop where you will be marked for Mansfield visors; and Mansfield hoodies; and Mansfield sipper bottles that both suck, and can be sucked. The staff at OSR feels they can afford this hubris because they vie themselves the darlings of reality shows like "Ghost Adventures," and "Ghost Hunters."

The fact that no one has ever really captured a photograph, or a video of a discernible apparition doesn't seem to bother them. No, this much is negligible. They hold the chalice in iced earth, Dante's inferno--the keys to the MYSTERIOUS NOISES ON DEATH ROW (...heh-heh...) which you will pay dearly to sample, and which probably have more to do with neglected sewer rats in the pipes than DICK, THE BUTCHER in his high voltage death throes. To the staff at OSR (mostly femmes, despite the fact that femmes are not wanted by the supposedly 'evil' spirits in C-BLOCK) there are two conditions possible: A) The sucker; B) Everyone else.

Lack of concrete evidence, and the stench of mendacity can only lead one to believe that this is a put-up job; a con; a hoax; for devout readers of Charles Fort, and S. Robert Tralins only.

Don't ask.

Judge for yourself. As for me, I can grasp why Harry Houdini despised hucksters like this who made it their quest to seperate the disparate, and the weak willed from their money.

8 Thank Tgarnett25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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