24 May, 2016
Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield
Ohio State Reformatory
It no longer operates as a prison but the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield still draws attention. Prior to the Reformatory, the site was called Camp Bartley, a Civil War camp that trained an estimated 4,000 soldiers for war.
The Ohio State Reformatory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, and OSR’s East cell block is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records for featuring the world’s largest free-standing steel cell block at six tiers. The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One movies were filmed on the reformatory grounds.
Opening in September of 1896, the building that would become known as the Ohio State Reformatory, greeted its first inmates. The building was first called the Intermediate Penitentiary, as it would house “middle of the road” criminals. Its goal was to reform these young male prisoners before they ended up in the Ohio Pen. It was this reason that Cleveland architect Levi T. Scofield designed the building after German castles, which had “spiritual and uplifting architecture”.
Some of the people who stayed at the OSR included Detroit Tigers utility player Gates Brown and Cleveland Browns running back Kevin Mack. And one former inmate, Henry Baker, would gain infamy for taking part in the great Brink’s Robbery in 1950.
Like all correctional facilities, the Ohio State Reformatory had its share of violence. Over the years, several officers have been murdered there, including Frank Hanger, who was beaten to death by prisoners during a 1932 escape attempt. But the worst place was the area known as “the hole”: solitary confinement. There are many stories of prisoners attempting and sometimes succeeding in hanging themselves within these cells.
For more information click here: Ohio State Reformatory
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