Where Was 'The Shawshank Redemption' Filmed?
Shawshank Redemption fans can check out Warden Norton's office, the Parole Board room, Brooks' hotel room and Andy Dufresne's escape tunnel.
Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield ('Shawshank Redemption')
For nearly 100 years, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield operated as a prison. It was closed in 1990 but was later used as the site of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” chosen by producer Niki Marvin for its timeless style and because it was vacant.
The film hit theaters on Sept. 23, 1994, and quickly made its way to one of the top-rated movies on IMDb, on which it still holds a 9.3 score. Join us on a virtual story of the site that brought this popular story to life.
The Reformatory's 'Shawshank' Tour
For those interested in visiting the prison, it gives in-person tours to those who want to learn more about where "The Shawshank Redemption" was filmed, taking them along The Shawshank Trail, which features 15 filming sites.
Mansfield itself doesn’t cater much to tourists, but it’s located just over 60 miles from Ohio’s two largest cities — Columbus and Cleveland — both rife with visitor-friendly attractions.
Visiting the Reformatory
The prison is currently open to tourists four days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from April 1 to Sept. 2, but they also have winter tours on weekends from Feb. 2 to March 31 as well as holiday tours on weekends from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23.
Separate self-guided tours are also available as well as additional add-ons that showcase all the filming locations from "The Shawshank Redemption."
Familiar Locations on the Tour
A few of the familiar spots highlighted are Warden Norton's office, the Parole Board room, Brooks' hotel room and Andy Dufresne's escape tunnel.
The original lights used in the movie are also on display.
Walking the Prison's Halls
Walking the prison hallways is especially scary because it's dubbed one of the most haunted prisons in America.
A Brief History of the Prison
Why is it so haunted, you ask? The reformatory opened its doors on Sept. 15, 1896, to 150 offenders and was designed to have a castle-like appearance.
The prison was fully operational until its 1990 closure, and during that time, more than 200 people died, including two prison guards who were killed by inmates during escape attempts.
The Backstory to the Filming Rights
The movie was based on a Stephen King short story titled, "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption."
Director Frank Darabont bought the filming rights from King for only $5,000.
Finding the Right Actors
Tim Robbins (Andy Dufresne) and Morgan Freeman (Ellis "Red" Redding) starred in the 1994 film, but there were several other actors considered for the roles.
Tom Cruise was the main actor considered for the role of Dufresne, but he walked out because he wouldn't be working for Director Rob Reiner who was interested in buying the movie rights from Darabont. Considered for the character of Red were Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman.
Long Workdays on Set
Apparently, workdays on set lasted 15 to 18 hours six days a week for three months in the Ohio summer heat.
Let's just say the actors got a real feel for the extreme prison weather conditions.
Beyond the Prison Walls
The Shawshank Trail extends beyond the prison walls, and you can take a self-guided driving tour to see some of the other sites.
And, in case you get lost, there are helpful signs that ensure you're on the right path.
The Bissman Block Building
One of the famous film locations outside of the prison is the Bissman Block building in Mansfield.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and built in 1897, it served as the location of the Brewer Hotel in the film, which served as a kind of halfway house where Brooks stayed after his realease.
The Shawshank Tree's Pivotal Role
The Shawshank tree is another. It plays a large role in the film's plot, where Red finds a box buried under the tree with a letter from Andy and cash to buy a bus ticket to visit him in Mexico.
The white oak is located near Malabar Farm State Park in Monroe Township, Ohio. At the time of filming, it stood 100 feet tall and was between 180 and 200 years old. But it was split by lighting on July 29, 2011, and later knocked down by wind in July 2016.
The Beach Reunion
Red and Andy do meet again in the film, but it's not actually in Mexico.
Their reunion was filmed at the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
'Hope Can Set You Free'
The movie's tagline was: "Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."
Spoiler alert: Dufresne seeks and finds freedom by digging a tunnel in the prison walls.
And, yes, you can visit the tunnel.