Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shawshank Redemption Prison Tour-Mansfield, Ohio

Thursday, 6/23/11 - We are keeping it very low key in Wally World, lots of relaxing and Will seems to be getting better.....Thank you Lord. It's been fun just sitting and watching the people come in for the weekend. My guess is this place is going to be crazy on the 4th of July weekend.

Friday, 6/24/11 - We took the RV and Saturn into the town, Loudonville to the one and only garage, Harris Automotive. Very nice people and they got us right in at 8 am and had both vehicles serviced by 1 pm and at a really reasonable price. Will was very happy. While the work was being done we walked both sides of Main Street, in and out of shops. Unfortunately, because of the economy many of the little shops on Main Street have gone out of business.

Sunday, 6/26/11 - Today is the day we have BOTH been waiting for......a tour of the Ohio State Reformatory Prison, where Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One were filmed. We are great fans of Shawshank Redemption and knowing we would be Ohio for sometime I started looking a what there was to do here and low and behold.....the prison is located between Columbus and Cleveland, right off I-71.

The Reformatory was opened in September 1896 and after housing over 155,000 men in its lifetime closed the prison doors on December 31, 1990. The Reformatory combined three architectural styles - Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Ann. This was done to encourage inmates back to a "rebirth" of their spiritual lives. Oh did Will love that line! There is more than 250,000 sq ft and houses the world's largest free-standing steel cell block. It has large granite pillars, Gothic columns and is listed on the National Register of Historic places. As we drove up the view of this place is spectacular and amazing to see. There is an actual prison build behind this structure and we were able to see prisoners out in the exercise yard when we arrived.

This place is run by all volunteers, they have only 2 paid workers. All money from tours are put back into keeping this place open. When we approached the gate at 11:30 am there were all ready people waiting to get in. The gates open at 12:30 and the tours start at 1:00 pm so we decided to go down the street and have lunch and come back. When we returned there were 3 cars in line at the gate and the gate was opening so we got in line and drove in. What we didn't know at that moment, the line were the volunteers reporting "to work" and the gate closed on everyone else. How hysterical is that! They told us we could park in the lot and just wait until the tickets went on sale at 12:30 pm. I of course jumped out of the car and started taking pictures of the prison from every angle and it was other people messing up my pictures. And of course we were first in line for the selling of tickets.

They offer three tours: West Tower, where you climb to the Guard Tower up a spiral staircase and see the cemetery where inmates were buried. East Cell Block: Travel the length of the East Cell Block, the world's largest, free-standing steel cell block. You also go through the Catholic Chapel and the Warden's living quarters. Hollywood Tour: (the one we took) See the "Shawshank" Prison Warden's office, the mail room, parole board room and Andy Dufresne's escape tunnel and the "Hole" Andy was thrown into. We saw the "hotel room" that was used where Brooks scratched into the board before he hung himself....."Brooks was here." Our guide was terrific, giving us lots of tidbits about the movie and the actors.

This was an amazing day and I can't wait to come back and take the other two tours plus go see some of the other locations they used around town in filming of this movie. There is a great website that tells about these places and I really wanted to see the wall and old Oak tree (Malbury Farms) where Andy buried the money for Red to find and come to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. A very fun day and we finished it off with a visit to WalMart in Mansfield and then home to have dinner. Much love to all family and friends. PS...the sun came out today, hurray!

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