Appearances Can Be Deceptive

Administration Building

If you’ve never been there, or even if you have and may not remember it, you may be thinking, what a beautiful mansion or resort hotel!  Well, it did house special guests.  It is the administration building at the old abandoned Mansfield Reformatory, one of Ohio’s former maximum security prisons!  I don’t think they build them like that anymore!

Inside the walls however, tells a very different story!

A rusting 2 prisoner cell.

Closed in 1990, the facility now sits as a rusting, peeling edifice of stone, steel and paint flakes.  Tours are available on weekends with special emphasis on ghost tours.  The facility has quite a reputation for being haunted!

The one and two person cells were very small and confining and were stacked like animal crates one on top of another for 5 and 6 stories.  Solitary confinement cells had solid steel doors with only slots for passing food in and for observation.

Cells stacked to form a cell block.

There is a new, modern facility now built next door.  It looks much different and reflects society’s different view of incarceration today.

The history of the Mansfield Reformatory includes the filming of a number of major motion pictures.  Most notably, “The Shawshank Redemption” and scenes from “Air Force One”.

Ohio Historical Marker.

About an hour and a half south of Cleveland, the facility makes a fascinating subject for photographers!  Beauty on the outside, something else entirely on the inside!  What a contrast.  They do warn however that the peeling paint contains lead and may pose a hazard.

About Kolman Rosenberg

My interest in photography began as a college newspaper and yearbook photographer during the stormy 1960s and 1970s. I was influenced by many of the great photojournalists and documentary photographers such as W. Eugene Smith, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Margaret Bourke-White and other black and white photographers of Life Magazine and the earlier Farm Security Administration. Though many of these photographers documented the horrors of war and the plight of poverty, they also showed me the dignity and adaptability of human beings in their desire to prevail.
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8 Responses to Appearances Can Be Deceptive

  1. andBerlin says:

    It certainly looks like a fascinating building – lovely photographs!


  2. 1222cc says:

    Bravo, Kolman!


  3. What a fabulous piece of history. Thanks for sharing.


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