The Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, OH
Saturday, August 5th, 2017 – $199 per person
- 6:00pm Doors Open
- 6:00pm-7:00pm Meet and Greet with celebrity investigators, Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango
- 7:00pm-7:30pm History and Overview of The Ohio State Reformatory
- 7:30pm-8:30pm Q&A Session and lecture with Syfy stars Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango
- 8:30pm-9:00pm Break to gather gear and prepare for investigation
- 9:00pm-1:00am Group assignment for our lights out investigation of The Ohio State Reformatory
All events are for entertainment purposes. No refunds. Non-transferable. Guests are subject to change. No e-checks accepted, Instant payments only. Only one discount per transaction, cannot combine offers.
PLEASE NOTE: All tickets will be mailed out to the address provided via Paypal approximately two weeks prior to the event date. *Minors Age 13-17 must be accompanied at all times by a ticket-holding adult guardian and will not be permitted to be left alone at any time.
The history of the Ohio State Reformatory began in 1861, the field where the reformatory would be built was used as a training camp for Civil War soldiers. The camp’s name had significant meaning to Ohio as it was named Camp Mordecai Bartley in honor of the Mansfield man who served as Ohio governor in the 1840s.
In 1867, Mansfield was promoted as a candidate for the placement of the new Intermediate Penitentiary (the original name before it was changed to Ohio State Reformatory). The city raised $10,000 to purchase 30 acres of land for the prison, and the state acquired 150 acres of adjoining land for $20,000; the cost of the facility was $1,326,769. The Intermediate (Ohio State Reformatory) was intended as just that, a halfway point between the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster and the State Penitentiary in Columbus which was intended to house young first-time offenders. Construction began in 1886 and remained under construction until 1910 due to funding problems which caused construction delays. The original architect for the design was Levi T. Scofield from Cleveland, who used three architectural styles; Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne. Scofield designed the reformatory with these unique styles to help encourage inmates to become reborn back into their spiritual lives. The creation and construction of the entire building was entrusted to well-known architect F.F. Schnitzer, whose name also appears on the cornerstone, and is recorded as Superintendent in documents found there. In 1891 the name was changed from Intermediate Penitentiary to Ohio State Reformatory.
On September 15, 1896 the reformatory opened its doors to its first 150 offenders. These prisoners were brought by train from Columbus and put immediately to work on the prison sewer system and the 25-foot stone wall surrounding the complex. Schnitzer was presented with a silver double inkwell by the governor of the state in a lavish ceremony to thank him for his services. The exterior of the building, which is built from brick and concrete, is designed in the Romanesque style giving the frontage a castle-like appearance.
The Reformatory remained in full operation until December 1990 when it was closed via federal court order. As the result of a prisoners’ class action suit citing overcrowding and inhumane conditions (Boyd v. Denton, C.A. 78-1054A (N.D.Oh.)), District Judge Frank J. Battisti of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ordered the prison closed by the end of December 1986. This order was known as the Boyd Consent Decree. The closing date was moved to 1990 due to delays in constructing the replacement facility, which stands to the west of the old prison, the Mansfield Correctional Institution.
Most of the grounds and support buildings, including the outer wall, have been demolished since the closing. In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed. They have turned the prison into a museum and conduct tours to help fund grounds rehabilitation projects and currently work to stabilize the buildings against further deterioration.
The East Cell Block remains the largest free standing steel cell block in the world at six tiers high. From 1935 until 1959 Arthur Lewis Glattke was the Superintendent. Initially a political appointment following Glattke’s work on the Martin Davey campaign, by all accounts Glattke was respected by professionals and inmates alike. He implemented many reforms such as piped in radio music in the cell blocks. Glattke’s wife, Helen Bauer Glattke, died of pneumonia three days following an accident in November 1950 where a handgun discharged when she was reaching into a jewelry box in the family’s quarters. Glattke died following a heart attack suffered in his office on February 10, 1959. Over 200 people died at the OSR, including two guards who were killed during escape attempts.
As reported by News Channel 4, Columbus, Ohio 1997
Stone walls and iron bars they’re still here, but what of the humanity, if you can call it that, of the old Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield. What of the 154,000 inmates who passed through it’s gates in it’s 94 years as a working prison. Not to mention their keepers, the Wardens, and the Guards, the gravediggers, and the rest, what of them remains? As it turns out, more than you might think. No matter what their crime, some sent to Mansfield have never left. They rest unclaimed in a cheerless graveyard just outside the fence. 215 numbered markers laid out row on row. Most were victims of disease, influenza, tuberculosis, but some died of less natural causes; From the violence, that is all to common inside any prison and was far from unknown in this one. And the worst of it occurred well away from the main cell block with their rows of cages stacked tier on tier, and inmates, one or two to a cell. There were too many eyes, too many witnesses here, no the worst of it was reserved for a far lonelier place, deep beneath the prison ground. A place called local control, or solitary, by some, known by everyone else as the hole. Near total isolation can crack all but the toughest of cons, but none was so alone that there wasn’t room for death. At least one inmate managed to hang himself, another set himself on fire, once two men left too long in a single tomb like cell, only one walked out, leaving his cellmate’s body behind, stuffed beneath a bunk. Could there be other similar surprises? Or words left over from the days before the prison closed? Even when they’re empty, some swear something walks these halls. It isn’t enough for contemporary visitors not to wonder off alone while sight seeing, what‘s become one of Mansfield’s more popular tourist attractions. But the bloodiest single incident in the old prison’s history occurred outside it’s walls. In July 1948, when the Reformatory’s farm boss, his wife and daughter were kidnapped and shot to death by two parolees bent on revenge. A six state manhunt for the so called mad-dog killers ended in a shootout that left Robert Daniels of Columbus in custody and his partner, James West dead. “I’ll get the Chair” Daniels told police as he signed the confession. And on January 3rd, 1949, he did. A year later in 1950 disaster struck again. This time, here in the living quarters of the Warden himself. The Warden’s wife, removing a jewelry box from a closet shelf dislodged a pistol from it’s hiding place. When it hit the floor, the gun went off inflicting a fatal wound. And within the decade, even more bad luck. The Warden, hard at work in his office, suffered a heart attack and died. All this was nearly 40 years ago and more, how then to explain the voices shaken tour guides swear they hear today? Man and woman talking, to faint to understand, to persistent to ignore and chilling to listeners who think they’re alone, only to find themselves apparently eavesdropping on the warden and his wife locked forever in an endless conversation from beyond the grave.