The Haunting of the Ohio State Reformatory

Ohio State Reformatory – Richland County, Mansfield, Ohio

Photograph ©Susan@Streamlets’

100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield, Ohio 44905
(419) 522-2644

Don’t let the picture above fool you, the Ohio State Reformatory is within the top five largest prisons in the United States of America. A man named Levi Scofield designed the building, making the outside resemble a castle and the insides resemble that of a church. Levi’s intention was to inspire the inmates to transform their wicked ways and seek the righteousness of God. Today, the two hundred and fifty thousand square foot prison is used as a museum and it also offers three different tours throughout the place.

During the Civil War era, the land where the reformatory now sits, stood bare. Union soldiers used this land for Camp Mordecai Bartley; a training camp that was positioned here for the useful natural springs that lie beneath the ground. After the war was over, a reform school for boys was built. Then, during the early nineteenth century, the reform school was turned into a federal prison, housing inmates that were transferred there from all over the country. In the early 90’s, a new prison was built behind the reformatory and inmates were moved there.

In 1995 the Ohio State Reformatory stood empty. This enormous, empty building was then used as a backdrop in such films as Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One. In 1996, the Preservation Society saw to it that the building became useful again and tours were given to raise money to restore the other old buildings on the property. The Preservation Society now owns the reformatory, keeping it from the dilapidation of time and keeping safe for generations to come.

As well as being a tourist attraction, the Ohio State Reformatory also seems to be an attraction for restless spirits who lost their lives in the building or on the land.

In the East Administration Building, many have claimed to hear disembodied voices coming from the former warden’s quarters. Two of the voices that have been heard here are believed to be that of former Warden Glattke and his wife and they are usually in the middle of a heated argument. Warden Glattke’s voice has also been heard in the Administration Wing, his former living quarters, the court yard and in several of the hallways. Mrs. Glattke is known to spend a lot of time in her former room known as the White Room. Many have observed the sudden scent of roses emanating throughout the room and then quickly disappearing. Mrs. Glattke has also spoken to the living on several occasions, being caught on tape.

In the chapel and in the west wing shower room, many have reported to feel a negative energy. Many apparitions of men have been witnessed in the chapel, perhaps they are still trying to make their peace with God. In the shower room, many visitors have claimed to see full-bodied apparitions, as well as, vaporous mists that form out of nowhere and quickly dissipate.

In the cell blocks throughout the building, a few of the spirits got a little physical with two female paranormal investigators. One of the women reported that she felt disembodied hands on her shoulders that held her temporarily back from her team as they investigated. The other woman claimed that she felt a hand on the small of her back that escorted her up a flight of stairs. This same woman also reported feeling someone playfully tickle the back of her neck.

Others who have visited the reformatory have claimed that an unseen presence blew in their faces, tried to choke them, shoved them, hit or punched them, and some have even been thrown down stair cases by these entities!

This seemingly charming, Queen Anne/Victorian Gothic can seem pretty tame on the outside but inside the walls of this old prison it can be as frightening and foreboding as any hell on earth. Some of the specters here mean no harm; however, some are still full of hate and seek vengeance on all those who trespass upon their territory.