The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield is probably best known for its starring role in Shawshank Redemption (much of the 1994 jail-break blockbuster was filmed here), but there's much more to this massive chateauesque structure than its Hollywood past. History buffs, thrill seekers and paranormal investigators find there's plenty to see.
Visitors taking advantage of the reformatory's new self-guided tour schedule get plenty of freedom to explore at their pace and according to their interest. Self-guided tours are available weekdays and Saturdays. The basic self-guided tour ($9 for adults) involves five video kiosks placed strategically throughout the prison's public areas. The kiosks look like old-time radios and feature touch screens showing videos about prison life and history, politics and Hollywood history. Video interviews of former prisoners, guards and historians give a first-hand account of life on the inside. Stick to a single theme, or explore all the videos. Rent an audioguide for an extra $5. The upgrade is a must: Though the video kiosks are cool enough, the audio tour tends to have more of the creepy information that thrill-seekers enjoy, like haunted hot spots and other prison lore.
Any tour requires lots of walking, stair climbing and sometimes-wobbly footing. Much of the interior is literally falling down; peeling paint, some of it a century old, poses a risk to young children and pregnant women.