Part 1: The medieval outsides of the building are the first things you notice when paying a visit to the Mansfield Reformatory , also known as the Ohio State Reformatory. Today, this site is considered one of the best buildings to visit in Ohio, which carries an intriguing history that dates back to September 15, 1896. Back then; it took 1.3 million dollars to create what was known as the biggest reformatory in America.
The construction gave off the appearance of an Old World gothic castle and earned the honors of the largest freestanding cell block in the world with a measurement that stood six tier high. They were also mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for this accomplishment. During 1861, quite some time before the land was transformed into a reformatory and then into a prison, the grounds had history that involved soldiers from the Civil War. The space was actually used by the soldiers as a training camp, which was known as Camp Mordecai Bartley. This title was created to pay homage to a Mansfield man who held the governor’s position throughout the 1840s.
In following years, the site gained the official vote to become the construction location for an Intermediate Penitentiary in 1867. At first, it was the idea that the Intermediate would serve as a “middle man” for the Boys Industrial School situated in Lancaster and the State Penitentiary located in Columbus. It was the hope that first-time offenders (usually rather young in age) would gain the opportunity to undergo a period of reformation.
In 1885, construction for the building started with a lead architect named Levi T. Scott. He laid out the plans and wanted to shape a Cathedral style. He wished to create a space where inmates would benefit from a sense of “hope.” The building was aimed to inspire change and positivity. In the end, the building actually looked a bit like Dracula’s lair. The architecture was quite impressive, as he integrated pyramid shapes. This is one of the theories behind the high level of paranormal activity attached to the building.
Over the course of the state penitentiary’s existence, more than 150,000 inmates resided behind the walls. They committed crimes that ranged from simple theft to long stretches on death row. At any one time, the prison was known to cater to about 3,500 individuals. In 1990, the Ohio State Reformatory would no longer exist as a correctional institution. Over the years, those who have paid a visit to the premises claim that the long hallways of the prison seem filled with unexplainable shadows and presences. Since the prison was shut down, numerous ghost sightings have been reported.
In Part 2 of this article titled, ” The Twisted Pain and Sadness of the Haunted Mansfield Reformatory,” you will find out some of the strange events and paranormal activity that this particular sight has been connected to.