Ohio Penitentiary

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The History of the Haunting


Formerly in Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio State Penitentiary was used as the fictional Shawshank Prison in New England in the movie.

The Ohio Penitentiary opened in 1834 and while first condemned by reformers in the early 1900s, it was not closed down until 1979. The prison has since been demolished, but haunting memories of it remain. During its years of operation, the prison saw scores of deaths from fire, cholera outbreaks, murder and executions in the state's electric chair, but nothing matched the horror of the fire that engulfed the prison in April 1930. The blaze swept through the west block of the penitentiary and killed 322 inmates in a single night. While the prison was still open, inmates complained of ghostly sightings and eerie happenings but when the buildings were finally torn down, tales quickly spread of apparitions among the ruins. Eventually, the prison was replaced by a sports arena - which is also rumored to be haunted.