As with many such things I have written about in the United States, these lovely turn of the century progressive ideals eroded with time. Finances became more important than people and The Ohio State Reformatory slowly became nothing more than a prison. Horror stories drifted out of the prison and became part of its mortar. Guards were murdered in solitary. One story told of a man who was put in solitary confinement with another man and killed him and hid him under the bed. Men were accidentally pushed over the five story cell block guard rail to their deaths. Men hung themselves. In 1933, overcrowding created more and more problems in the reformatory by 1986 The Council of Human dignity was in the process of completing a lawsuit to shut the reformatory down because of the “brutalizing and inhumane” conditions found in the walls of the once idealic reformatory.
I can’t even begin to describe all the hauntings and horrors that have been seen in the Ohio State Reformatory here. I was in the reformatory for a brief period of time and I could feel the history seeping out of the walls. Those that work in the reformatory embrace its history and believe that the building is made more beautiful by it. It whispers secrets and calls to others to come explore them. The beauty and uniqueness of the structure has called to many since its closing. The Shawshank Redemption, Airforce One, Tango and Cash, and many other movies have been filmed there. People come from all over to tour the facility. Tours run daily. Famous ghost hunting teams from all the big televisions shows have locked themselves in the reformatory to see its ghosts and they are not disappointed. The ghosts in the reformatory are thick.
My guide said that paranormal occurrences are common in the reformatory in almost ever section of the structure. Objects fly about on their own. Doors open and close and lights flickers. Strange shadows creep up on you from quiet corners. The stories from the reformatory are numerous. A Guard named Frank Hanger was injured and later died during an escape attempt from solitary. It is said that his ghost and the ghosts of those hung for his murder still linger in solitary. Clear EVPs from this section of the prison have captured the voices of all these men. The Warden’s quarters where the warden and his family used to live is said to be haunted by the ghost of a warden and his wife who were both mortally injured in the warden’s quarters. One employee described seeing four phantoms walk straight towards her and then vanish in the warden‘s quarters. Another saw an orb moving in the shadows in the warden’s quarters. Full body apparitions have been seen in the administration wing, the wardens quarters, and the east cell block.. People have described being punched, pushed and hit. The list goes on and on. There are so many ghost stories that Sherri Brake was able to fill an entire book with stories just from The Ohio State Reformatory. I won’t try to tell them all here, but I will say that if you are ever in Ohio the reformatory is worth the visit. Its ghostly beauty will stay with me for a long time and its ghosts have made believers out of the most hardened skeptics.