Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 film that starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Despite its poor reception in cinemas, the movie gained a cult following, inspiring and touching the lives of its viewers. The film was filmed in an old prison in Ohio. But did you know how much the property was sold?
The Ohio State Reformatory was scheduled for demolition after being used in the classic film “The Shawshank Redemption.” A society purchased the prison from the state for a dollar and turned it into a tourist spot.
The Mansfield Reformatory
The Ohio State Reformatory, often referred to as the Mansfield Reformatory, was built by a famous Cleveland architect named Levi Scofield. It was built between 1896 and 1910, suffering delays due to financing. The prison drew its inspiration from three architectural styles – Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Queen Anne. (Source: History Hit)
The Reformatory was initially built to house first-time offenders, where they could be rehabilitated humanely. The design of the buildings was to encourage inmates to be more in touch with their spiritual lives and turn away from their sinful lifestyles. But the prison later became the home of some of the worst criminals in the country in the 1960s. The state removed its financial support to be run as a reformatory, converting it to a maximum security facility. (Source: MRPS)
As it wasn’t built to be a maximum-security prison, the Reformatory severely deteriorated by the eighties. There were also multiple reports from inmates that the place was brutal, inhumane, and unfit for human habitation. This led to a class-action suit filed by the prisoners on the grounds of inhumane conditions and intense overcrowding.
The inmates won the suit, leading to the prison’s closure in 1990. Then in 1993, it was used to film the classic movie The Shawshank Redemption that starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The location was also featured in other films like Tango and Cash, Air Force One, and Escape Plan: The Extractors. (Source: History Hit)
The Rebirth of the Reformatory
A year after, the Mansfield Reformatory Society, a non-profit organization composed of fans of the prison, bought the property off of the state for just one dollar. (Source: Smithsonian Magazine)
The society planned to restore the buildings and was successful because many fans of the movie were drawn to visit it. The organization turned the prison into a tourist attraction. It has been reported that it draws an average of 120,000 tourists annually. (Source: MRPS)
The Reformatory also now houses the official Ohio State Corrections History Museum. The society also allowed ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts to ghost-hunt. The location also served as a wedding location for some. The organization also allows private reservations. Rob Klarman, a tour guide and voluntary liaison to the Reformatory’s board of directors, rented out the prison for his daughter’s high school graduation celebration.
The success of the Shawshank Redemption created a cult following. Fans of the film usually visit the prison to experience it themselves. The locals call these tourists the Shawshank Pilgrims, allowing the sleepy town to earn from tourists. (Source: NPR)