The Shawshank Redemption (Mansfield / Lucas)

Sometime around 5:30 AM on Saturday, June 6, 2015, David Sweat and Richard Matt- both convicted killers in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY- were discovered missing from their prison cells.  Matt was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol tactical unit in Malone, NY on June 26, 2015.  Sweat was shot but survived and was taken into custody June 28, 2015.  The news media declared it the Shawshank Redemption escape in reference to Andy Dufrense’s escape from the fictional Shawshank prison.  And then there are the newspaper headlines:

  • “A sensational ‘Shawshank Redemption’-style prison break,” – The New York Daily News
  • “Daring ‘Shawshank Redemption’-style escape,” – The New York Post
  • “How real-life prison escape compares with ‘Shawshank.’” – the Associated Press.  ABC News has also done a similar story.

Tim Robbins was on Conan the following Monday night to promote his HBO series The Brink.  I don’t know when he was booked to be a guest but usually those bookings are made a few weeks in advance of the scheduled appearance.  So it was probably luck for Conan O’Brien to get the star of The Shawshank Redemption on his show only days after the real-life prison escape in upstate New York:

If it had not been for that prison break, this posting would probably start here noting that while the Shawshank Prison is fictional, the prison that “played” the role of the Shawshank prison is in Mansfield, Ohio.  Known as the old Ohio State Reformatory, it opened its doors to its first 150 inmates in 1896 and closed on December 31, 1990 when the last of the prisoners were moved to the nearby Mansfield Correctional Institute.

This is taken on the Hollywood Tour of the Ohio State Reformatory.  As you can tell, the actual prison cells from the Shawshank Redemption were not from Ohio State Reformatory as these cells face outward and in the fictional Shawshank prison, the rows of cells face each other.
This is taken on the Hollywood Tour of the Ohio State Reformatory. As you can tell, the actual prison cells from the Shawshank Redemption were not from the Ohio State Reformatory as these cells face outward and in the fictional Shawshank prison, the rows of cells face each other.  Those cells were a Hollywood creation in a warehouse in Mansfield that we were told on the tour is in use today.

Tours of the old prison can be taken April 1 – September 1.  The only days it’s closed are the holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, and July 4th).  The only guided tours are available on Sundays and the Reformatory hours are 11 AM – 4 PM daily.  The are four different guided tours one can take on a Sunday.

  • The Hollywood Tour  
  • West Tower Tour  
  • East Cell Block Tour  
  • Behind the Scenes Tour

Or, if you want to see the prison at your own pace, self-guided tours are an option every day of the week.

In downtown Mansfield are a couple of other stops on the Shawshank Tour:

The Bissman Building at 193 N. Main St. in Mansfield
The Bissman Building at 193 N. Main St. in Mansfield “played” the role of the Brewer Hotel in The Shawshank Redemption, however only the outside of the building was used for the hotel. Brooks’ room (and later Red’s room) was filmed at the Ohio State Reformatory. They also host ghost-hunters from all over as well as the building- built in 1886- has a history of paranormal activities.
In downtown Mansfield is the park where Brooks feeds the birds after being released from prison.  The actual bench that actor James Whittmore sat on is gone; a gazebo is sitting there now.  There is a replica green bench with a Shawshank plaque on it.
In downtown Mansfield is the park where Brooks feeds the birds after being released from prison. The actual bench that actor James Whittmore sat on is gone; a gazebo is sitting there now. There is a replica green bench with a Shawshank plaque on it. Not sure why but I didn’t get a picture of the bench though I was probably thinking that since it wasn’t the actual bench, it wasn’t a big deal to see it. The park is about a half-mile south of the Bissman Building.
The Carrousel Antiques window was used as the pawn shop that Red was looking into from the outside and seeing the compass he would later use to find the Oak Tree.  Located at 118 N. Main St. in downtown Mansfield.  It's only 0.2 miles north of Central Park where Brooks' Bench was.
The Carrousel Antiques window was used as the pawn shop that Red was looking into from the outside and seeing the compass he would later use to find the Oak Tree. Located at 118 N. Main St. in downtown Mansfield. It’s only 0.2 miles north of Central Park where Brooks’ Bench was.

Just outside of Mansfield in Southeastern Richland County is the village of Lucas and home to the Oak Tree from the Shawshank Redemption.

This picture was taken July 30, 2011, the day after the tree was split open by strong winds so it no longer looks as it did when Red (Morgan Freeman) finds the box Andy left for him.  The half of the tree that's still standing is on Pleasant Valley Rd, about 0.8 miles west of Ohio route 603 in Lucas.  The tree is on private property so fans are discouraged from walking up to the tree.  Tourism officials discourage fans from stopping along Pleasant Valley Rd. to take pictures and I won't encourage you to ignore that request, I will say this:  the population of the village of Lucas is 602 according to a 2013 estimate; how much traffic would you expect to see on any given road?
This picture was taken July 30, 2011, the day after the tree was split open by strong winds so it no longer looks as it did when Red (Morgan Freeman) finds the box Andy left for him. The half of the tree that’s still standing is on Pleasant Valley Rd, about 0.8 miles west of Ohio route 603 in Lucas. The tree is on private property so fans are discouraged from walking up to the tree. Tourism officials discourage fans from stopping along Pleasant Valley Rd. to take pictures and I won’t encourage you to ignore that request, I will say this: the population of the village of Lucas is 602 according to a 2013 estimate; how much traffic would you expect to see on any given road?

The Ohio State Reformatory
100 Reformatory Road
Mansfield, Ohio  44905

Hours:  11 AM – 4 PM Daily from April 1 to September 1; closed the rest of the year except for special events

Admission:  Self-Guided Tours:  General Admission – $9.00; Students (Ages 7-17); Seniors (Age 60+), College ID, and Military – $7.00.  Audio wand – $5.00 per wand

Admission:  Guided Tours (Sundays only):  General Admission – $14.00; Students (Ages 7-17); Seniors (Age 60+), College ID, and Military – $12.00.  Same-day discount:  if you take more than 1 guided tour, every tour after the first one is $7.00 each on that day.

Parking:  Free

Distances from Ohio cities:

  • 76 miles northeast of Columbus
  • 190 miles northeast of Cincinnati
  • 80 miles southwest of Cleveland
  • 106 miles southeast of Toledo
  • 67 miles west-southwest of Akron

The Shawshank Trail takes you on a tour of 14 sites across Northern Ohio where the Shawshank Redemption was filmed.

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