AAA Editor Notes
Ohio State Reformatory, 100 Reformatory Rd., was opened in 1896 and was in use as a prison facility until 1990. Its castle-like appearance—with a combination of Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Queen Anne architectural styles—was intended to steer the prisoners from their past misdeeds and lead them toward repentance. Visitors can tour the complex on their own with the aid of an audio wand to enhance the experience. Several 1-hour guided tours provide a more in-depth overview of the structure. On the History Meets Hollywood Tour visitors will see the guard tower, views of the cemetery and underground tunnel system, living quarters on multiple floors and the Catholic chapel as well as learn about the reformatory's use as a film location for “The Shawshank Redemption.” The Behind the Scenes Tour goes into the attic, yard and sub-basement. The Life of an Inmate Tour leads participants through the daily tasks of a real-life former inmate at the prison, complete with a visit to his cell.
A room is dedicated to the state’s original electric chair, known as “Ol’ Sparky,” and includes related items. Special events also are offered.
Note: Tours require stair climbing. Limited handicap-accessible tours are also available; phone for details. Due to lead-based paint throughout the facility, pregnant women and children under age seven are advised not to visit.
Guided tours are available.