Located about 80m (130km) outside Cleveland, Ohio State Reformatory was made famous as a filming location for
The Shawshank Redemption. However, it’s long been famous among ghost hunters and paranormal investigators as the most haunted place in Ohio, and one of the most haunted places in the country. Take a tour and find out why the Ohio State Reformatory has turned so many skeptics into believers…
Built on top of a Civil War training camp, construction of the Reformatory began in 1886.
It was completed in 1910, but the first 150 inmates were sent here in 1896. It was considered to be one of the best prisons in the country, but became overcrowded. It was deemed unfit and closed down in 1990.
It's now owned by a preservation society which offers ghost tours or the most haunted parts of the Reformatory.
The most haunted parts of the Reformatory are the chapel, the warden's quarters, and the solitary confinement units.
Designed as a true reformatory, it was supposed to be a 'spiritually uplifting' place which would inspire inmates to "better themselves."
At first, violent criminals and repeat offenders were sent to the Oho Penitentiary, but due to prison overpopulation, the state began to send inmates to the Ohio State Reformatory with less discretion. A lawsuit was filed against the Reformatory in 1978, which claimed that the prison's conditions were "brutalizing and inhumane".
Two hundred and fifteen prisoners died in the Ohio State Reformatory.
Many inmates died of sicknesses and diseases which spread through the prison's unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. As the prison accepted more violent criminals, more inmates were killed in fights or died at the hands of other inmates. Many more committed suicide. These prisoners were buried in the prison yard, marked by 215 numbered markers. Most people who report ghost sightings report seeing these men, restless and forgotten by the system which was supposed to reform them.
At least two guards were killed in escape attempts from the Reformatory.
One of the bloodiest incidents associated with the Reformatory occurred when two paroled prisoners hunted down the Reformatory farm boss and his wife and daughter. They kidnapped them and shot them to death. One of the men was killed while being apprehended by police, and the other was sentenced to death by electrocution. The reformatory ghosts range from harmless to violent and angry. Some simple appear as shadows, or smells, while others push or grab visitors.
The administration wing is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman.
In the spirit of reformation, the wardens and much of the administration lived on-site at the penitentiary. One night, the Superintendent's wife, Helen Glattke, knocked a gun off a shelf and accidentally shot herself. She died three days later, on November 8, 1950. There have been rumors that she died at the hands of her husband, or a secret lover, or even an inmate, and remains to seek justice. Some claim that she took her own life and wanders the halls in mourning. Many people have smelled her rose perfume, lingering in the air.
The prison had over 600 rooms, over 6 floors in a free-standing building.
One tour group was surprised to hear someone running along the hallway behind them while they stood inside one of the cells. The tour guide asked who was missing, scolding them for running around unsupervised. The shocked tour group looked among themselves and noticed that every member was accounted for. Confused, the tour guide told the group to leave the cell, but the cell door suddenly slammed shut behind them.
Strange lights, noises, voices, and other phenomena are common throughout the prison.
There have been reports of a young boy wandering the halls, crying. His grief is so palpable that ghost hunters have found themselves in tears. Strange men in 1930s garb appear in photos. Some photos turn out totally blank. Others have heard a voice whispering to them in the warden's office.
Catch me if you can...
Some experiences are more tangible and voilent.
One woman reported being shoved from behind, causing her to fall down rickety stairs. Another man reported being shoved off a chair and onto the floor by a cold force. Workers have felt severe pain, like being stabbed, and seen bruises appearing on their bodies, only to disappear seconds later.
Take a night-time tour... if you dare.
Tours of the Reformatory run at night, beginning at 6pm. A guided tour introduces you to the prison and its history. After the first two hours, the tour ends, and you are free to roam the prison until 1am. Don't forget your flashlight - the prison lights are turned off for the rest of the night.
Over 154,000 men passed through the Ohio State Reformatory.
Most of the men left, reformed or transferred. Some died within the reformatory walls. Others may still be here, just waiting for visiting hours to begin...
You can take a guided or self-guided tour, which will show you all the most haunted parts of the Reformatory. Guides will share the grisly history of the Reformatory, and maybe even some personal anecdotes about strange noises coming from empty cells, and cold winds in closed rooms.