The 'Shawshank' Attraction: Famous Movie Prison Now a Big Tourism Draw


(Photo: Castle Rock Entertainment)

The prison featured in the 1994 movie “The Shawshank Redemption” is getting a new lease on life as a tourist attraction after escaping demolition.

The Ohio State Reformatory, a mammoth structure built in 1886, drew up to 80,000 visitors last year alone, was the site for celebrations marking the hit movie’s 20th anniversary last week that included a 40’s themed cocktail party.


The exterior of The Ohio State Reformatory, aka “Shawshank” (Photo: Wikicommons)

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The reformatory was an actual prison until 1990, and was originally due to be demolished to make way for a parking garage. Over the years, the massive granite building with back walls 25 feet tall, 6 feet thick at the base and up to 250 yards long, fell into disrepair. In 1994, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society purchased the site for $1 with the understanding it would revert to the state if progress wasn’t made to turn it into a viable tourist site.


People gather for a haunted tour (Photo: Ohio State Reformatory/Facebook)

Other popular events at the site include mystery dinners, Halloween haunts and festivals, and ghost hunting activities, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The place is believed to be haunted by several inmates that died while serving time at the facility.

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Over the next six months, the building, which is located in Mansfield, Ohio, will get further enhancements. It will be cleaned, decorated, and get huge cathedral windows and heating so that it will be weatherproof for tourists within six months, reports the Post-Gazette.

“It’s a 100-year project,” Paul Smith, director of the reformatory and owner of local wine bar, The Hungry Grape told the paper.


The Ohio State Reformatory offers self guided tours (Photo: Ohio State Reformatory/Facebook)

Right now, tourists can take as a 13-stop self-guided “Shawshank” tour taking in some of the movie’s key moments.


The pivotal tree in “Shawshank.” You probably won’t find a box full of money there. Probably. (Photo: Castle Rock Entertainment)

Visitors can see the bench where long-term convict Brooks (James Whitmore) fed the birds, the courthouse where Tim Robbins’ character Andy Dufresne was convicted of murder, and the old oak tree where Andy concealed money for jail pal Red (Morgan Freeman).

In addition to the “The Shawshank Redemption,” the Ohio State Reformatory was used in scenes for the film “Air Force One” and “Tango and Cash.”

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