The Shawshank Redemption is one of cinema’s greatest triumphs. But did you know that the iconic movie was actually filmed on location in what had been a real-life jail? It wasn’t in use for incarceration at the time, obviously, but it certainly looked the part. Over 25 years later, though, the place is totally abandoned and seriously creepy – even for a former prison. Take a look inside...
The Ohio State Reformatory hadn’t been closed long when they filmed Shawshank. It stopped being used as a prison in 1990, and the movie came out 4 years later, so it made the ideal backdrop. But today the complex is a haunting shell of its former self. Still, something about it is eerily beautiful.
Yes, this now-abandoned place is somehow alluring and unsettling at the same time. That’s probably part of what makes it so memorable in The Shawshank Redemption. It’s no wonder that the filmmakers saw it as the ideal setting to portray both the brutality of prison life for their characters and a place that would change their lives forever.
But the Reformatory was a pretty terrifying place in its day, and that leaves a curious legacy. Many who visit the site, which is near the Ohio city of Mansfield, are searching for the ghosts that are said to roam there. Yes, phantoms apparently stalk the old prison walkways, and specters can be heard murmuring within the empty cells.
It wasn’t always a tough prison, though: the Reformatory was built with the aim of helping those kept within its walls. The idea was that the prisoners would walk away with faith in God, skills that they could use to make money lawfully and a decent education. But in time it would become renowned for its brutality.