Mansfield Reformatory Where Shawshank Redemption Was Filmed

My cousin and I took a guided tour through the Mansfield Reformatory in Mansfield Ohio. This is where the Shawshank Redemption movie was filmed. I thought I would share my pictures with you since I took the day off from cooking. There have been multiple movies and a video filmed here including being filmed as a Russian prison for the Air Force One movie.

A non profit organization bought this property for $1.00 from the state as nobody else bid on the property. The state in turn donated the same $1.00 back to them after the sale was complete. They obtain the funds for the upkeep through ticket sales and as a haunted house during Halloween. The tour tickets were $25.00 for a self guided tour and $35.00 for a guided tour.

It is a beautiful building that took 10 years to build, primarily because they kept running out of money.

What a unique chain to wait in line for tickets.

The Wardens office was placed in the front of the building so he could see the front gate and be prepared when the state was coming to see him.

Look closely at these bars. The movie people wanted bars installed in this window so they used wood and a few nails to hold the bars in place.

Looking out through the bars.

The walls and ceilings are peeling badly.

This X is the light coming from windows in the rooms. This building was built to perfection and designed to make this image from the daylight. If you stepped in the center of the X it was considered very bad luck.

The Chapel where inmates were required to attend until money started getting tight.

The central guard room.

The cells are very small and held two inmates.

We were told we could go into the cells but not to shut the doors. They do not have keys and if we should get locked inside a cell they have to call a special locksmith from Columbus Ohio. The locksmith charges $2,500 to get you out and you have to pay the charge!

A spiral staircase.

Cells were five or six floors high.

The brick structures on the lower right are heat vents. The heat came from underground tunnels. I asked if anyone ever escaped in the tunnels and she said no, however, an inmate was found dead in one tunnel once.

This was a shower room. When the movie was being filmed they insisted on having water come out of the shower heads. Since there was no water hooked up to them anymore, they placed a fire truck outside of the window and connected a fire hose to get water into the water line. The water was 35 degrees at the time. They needed the water to look steamy so they put dry ice in the grates.

Solitary Confinement cells looked cleaner than the regular inmate cells to me.

Do you see the gray painted area on the floor? This was the area the guards walked, under the overhang, so that the inmates in the upper floors couldn’t throw things down at the guards as they patrolled every hour.

Old picture of the reformatory.

I am hoping to share one more day trip that I will be taking with my husband. I promise to bring back my recipes soon.


  1. Thanks, I’ve never seen the movie, but want too now. I always love things like this. I remember when The Mask 2 was being filmed, you can’t mistake where, as 1 of my employers buses can be clearly seen. It was filmed in Sydney, Australia.

  2. A real good film. I actually met Tim Robbins and his then wife (?) Susan Sarandon years ago at a service station where I worked on their cars. Two of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

  3. This is amazing! Just to see some pictures is a real treat. One of my favorite scenes is on the roof top where they’re having a cold beer and for a moment get to feel like free men. It’s powerful in all it’s simplicity. Thank you for this interesting tour.

    • It is a movie we will always remember! Now that I have seen some of the rooms that they filmed in, I may have new favorite parts! The tour guide said to figure an extra hour to watch it again because we will be pausing it to look at the same rooms we stood in! Lol

  4. What a great tour – thank you!! I am amazed that they seem to be allowing it to decline further. I would have thought there might be scope for sprucing up a few rooms for Spring Breaks or as an unusual AirBnB? You really get a feel for the scale of the place from that old aerial shot!

    • There is an active prison close to this building. There were windows that we were not allowed to take pictures from and it would have been a federal offense if we did. They are trying to fix it up but being a non profit organization that only gets money from tours and the haunted house they are lucky to be keeping up with the basic upkeep.

  5. Wow, such a beautiful building (from the outside) … but I wouldn’t want to be inside overnight 😉. Thanks for sharing all the background information, it was a really interesting tour.
    And I thought maybe you’ll be looking for the kitchen to prepare a dish for the inmates (I mean, the tourists 😄).

  6. What an amazing experience to visit this place! One of my favorite movies.. was wonderful reading this! Thank you for sharing Diane 🙂

  7. ReAlly enjoyed every single photo you generously shared with us!
    The Shawshank redemption is a too movie for us and so of course I enjoyed all the movie connections – but the extras too – like the 60 looking like GO and then the cemetery between two prisons –
    What a cool place to visit

    • Thank you I really enjoyed the tour. It was something I have wanted to do for a long time but my husband wasn’t interested. I was thrilled that my cousin would go with me. I found it so interesting and now I want to watch the movie again. I will look at it differently now that I have seen so many of the rooms from the movie.

      • I want to watch the movie again too – and there is a podcast called the “rewatchables” and they cover the Shawshank redemption – I think the hosts’ dad loved the movie so he was on as a guest – anyhow, on a radtrip a while ago my hubs played the episode for use to enjoy and they all about different parts of the show –
        and Diane – now you have me wanting to watch this again too –
        we have this on a DVD but I am not sure we have DVD players around – I need to look

      • Well all of our laptops and devices do not have DVD players any more – we have an old large computer that does but the cd drive got messed up – but your comment reminded me that we have a CD drive to use because that is what we did to get around the broken cd drive when it was somewhat new
        I plan on watching it this week

      • Talk about luck! I watched the movie on Bravo Saturday night. I google the movie on Friday and it showed me when it was playing and what network it was on. Never knew you could do that, learned something new! Lol

    • It was tough imagining what the inmates went through but keep in mind this was built as a reformatory originally. They really wanted to reform the criminals to a better way of life. At first they were required to go to the chapel and take classes, however, when the money was reduced due to more inmates, it would have become like any other prison. As I toured the facility they talked mostly about the movie so that made it doable for me.

  8. I resisted seeing this movie for an absurdly long time – and then I was blown away by it. Thank you for sharing these photographs. Turning Ohio into Maine is classic cinema sleight of hand!

  9. Mansfield Reformatory very interesting, You took beautiful photos, you can visit it with you, although I was never able to Ohio. 🙂

  10. Thanks Diane! It reminds me of a similar day trip I had with my husband, to a ‘haunted house’ in Ireland – the stories still stick with me. Thanks for sharing,

  11. Thank you for taking us on this wonderful tour, Diane. Almost feels like we were there!

    I can’t believe the non profit bought the land for just $1. What a steal!

    It’s shocking to see how tight the cells are for the inmates but I guess they weren’t going in for a vacation. 🤣 Good thing you didn’t lock yourself into one of those cells either. $2,500 to get broken out of jail is a steep fine to pay!

    • The cells originally were designed for one inmate but there was a fire at another jail and they had to move 300 inmates to Mansfield. It just kept going up from there. The non profit still has a lot of remodeling to do but they are doing a great job maintaining at this point.

  12. Wow, thanks for sharing your pictures Diane. So fascinating. I need to rewatch Shawshank Redemption, it has been so long.

  13. How neat that you got to go there! I can’t believe it took 10 years to build it. It’s a beautiful building, though. The movie facts are really interesting, especially the “shower”. I don’t know how they didn’t freeze!

    • The man that designed the building wanted it to look much better than a prison and he was a perfectionist. He went so far over budget that every year they would get so much money then have to wait for the next year to continue building. There was more told to us about the showers but I will leave that part out.

  14. Thanks for the great tour Diane. I have never seen the movie, so now would like to see it. The house and everything you covered in your tour gave us a lot of insight into how they lived – the cellblock was so narrow as you looked down it. The cell itself – interesting. It is fascinating that if you lock yourself in the cell, how much you have to pay out of your own pocket. Thanks for sharing this trip and I look forward to seeing your day trip with your husband.

  15. Fascinating info here, Diane. Thanks for sharing your photos, and for giving us a peek behind the scenes of this movie production, especially the info re: Forced Perspective.

    P.S. The matchstick Ferris Wheel and steamboat are so beautiful.

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