The Ohio State Reformatory
Construction began on the impressive stronghold that would become the Ohio State Reformatory in 1886, though the project would not be completed until 1910 and the building’s first inmates would not be introduced until 1896. The reformatory was built to inspire wrong-doers to return to spiritually, and as such, invoked many features of a medieval castle into its design, even earning itself the local nickname of Draculas’ Castle for its foreboding appearance.
Originally, the Reformatory was named the “Intermediate Prison,” taking on offenders too old for juvenile detention and who had only committed a minor or first offense. The prison aimed to rehabilitate with the use of religion, education and trade. However, by the 1960s the prison system swelled and overpopulation got the better of the reformatory, leading to a change, seeing the institution become a maximum security facility, which it was never designed to be.
This progression would see more violent inmates introduced and poor, inhumane living conditions surface. Eventually the prisoners were able to successfully sue the facility, leading to its closure in 1990. Since then, the prison has been preserved as a museum and relic of the past, it has even been utilized in the filming of many movies including the most notable, the Shawshank Redemption.
Some say that there may still be prisoners and guards from the past roaming the empty halls of the Reformatory.
Ghost Stories of the Ohio State Reformatory
During almost 100 years of operation, the Ohio State Reformatory saw some 154,000 prisoners pass through its doors, though not all of those made it out alive. Disease, suicide, murder and other means of death tore through the facility, ending the lives of the 215 marked graves in the prison’s cemetery, though the actual death toll for the building is rumored to be much higher.
More than a few spirits are said to have taken up residence in the prison and remained long after its official closure. Those to visit often report hearing disembodied voices, footsteps, seeing apparitions or shadow figures and even being touched whether just a grab or brush, but even sometimes in more violent ways.
One of the areas that has baffled investigators for many years is simply known as the ‘Chair Room.’ This is a simple space in the administration building and the only room in the facility to contain no windows. Some speculate that it was used for dark means, since violent paranormal activity is said to occur there. Some to enter and sit on the chair have reported to be touched and even scratched by something unseen. Others have even reported to feel the chair shake underneath them.
Another area said to be very active is the West Wing Attic. Here, many prisoners with violent backgrounds were kept due to overcrowding. Seeing as the attic wasn’t equipped with cells, the prisoners were kept in more dormitory style ways leading to a lot of unruly behavior. So it makes perfect sense as to why this is one of the more active areas in the prison.
Many others have also reported to hear and sight paranormal phenomena in the East Cellblock and Underground Solitary Confinement Cells, better known as the Hole. This was a place where guards and prisoners were murdered and some even took their own lives.
Visiting the Haunted Ohio State Reformatory
The Ohio State Reformatory is open daily for guided tours and special paranormal tours and investigations are often also hosted at the facility. There is plenty to explore at the old reformatory and it opens its visitors up to so much interesting history and even film sets from the Shawshank Redemption film.
If you are interested in other famously haunted prisons in the USA, I highly recommend checking out Alcatraz.
Thanks for reading!