We have moved on to Loudonville, Ohio. Friday we drove to Mansfield, the location of an old prison. As you can see from the picture this building is beautiful. The castle-like structure was built in 1886 and was considered by many to be a 19th century architectural wonder. Its style was meant to give the inmates a rebirth of their spiritual lives. Initially the prison did help many of its inmates turn their lives around. In this prison they could learn almost any skill they wanted. The prison was self-sustaining in that it produced, prepared and even canned its own food. There was also a large furniture shop. Classrooms and teachers gave the inmates an opportunity to get their high school diploma. However, by the 1970s over-crowding gave the prison a sub-standard rating (at certain times in its history it held 2200 to 3000 men). It was quite sobering for John and I to view the two cell blocks. In the East Cell Block alone (there are two of the blocks) are six tiers which can house 1,200 men in cells 7’x9’. The platform shown in the picture below was left behind after a movie was filmed there in that cell block. That picture was taken looking down on the tier of cells. Many of prison walls do need a new paint job!
Six movies have been made within these prison walls, Shawshank Redemption being the most popular one of them all. We found on our tour of the prison quite a few signs indicating “Hollywood Prop” sites. Some of the sites were certainly not part of the original building, as you may see in the picture below. The hole where the prisoners escaped in Shawshank can be seen to the right of Morgn Freeman.
The prison closed in 1990. After it was cleaned up, tours of the building were given. The building also became available for weddings. Every November there is a “Glamour in the Slammer Expo” when future brides can meet the vendors who will assist them with planning their wedding in the Central Guard’s room. While we were there the room was being readied for a wedding reception that evening. Paranormal activity has been reported everywhere in this prison, this would not be my choice for a wedding site!