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A Must for Architecture Lovers: Levi Scofield Road Trip in Ohio

Tonya Prater, Owner

I may be biased, but Ohio is a pretty great state for road trips. I’ve taken so many over the years; as a family, with my husband, and with friends. My new favorite road trip in Ohio has an architectural flair.

If you are a fan of architecture, you’ll love this road trip which will lead you to some of the buildings and monuments designed by architect Levi T. Schofield.

Who is Levi T. Schofield?

Levi T. Schofield was an architect and sculptor from Cleveland. He served in the Civil War before returning to the city to pursue a career in architecture in the late 19th century. He designed several prominent buildings, monuments, and sculptures throughout Ohio but may be best known as the architect who built the iconic Ohio State Reformatory where the Shawshank Redemption was filmed.

He was also responsible for the design of five public schools in Cleveland between 1869 and 1883, which sadly were replaced by more modern buildings in the late 20th century.

Here are the Schofield buildings and memorials you’ll see during this Ohio road trip. So pack your cooler, grab your camera and set off for a fun, educational road trip.

Tip: Grab this Road Trip Journal & Activity Book for fun on the road. This is not your run of the mill road trip journal that is geared towards kids, this is one that adults will love.

Levi Schofield Road Trip in Ohio 

If you enjoy different types of architecture, then you will love this tour! We’ll start in Athens, then pass through Columbus en route to Mansfield and end the tour in Cleveland where you’ll have time to explore beyond Schofield if you desire.  

You could drive this entire route and rush through it in a day, but I hope you’ll be inspired to take your time and fully explore each destination from southeastern Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie. You’ll encounter much history, culture and beautiful scenery. Not to mention the real gems of this road trip, the work of Levi Schofield.

I’ve taken the liberty of planning the route out for you. If you’d like to follow this route, all you need to do is click “more options” to add this map to your phone.  

Athens Lunatic Asylum

S Plains Rd, Athens Twp, OH

The Ridges in Athens

The Athens Lunatic Asylum was designed by Schofield, and operated from 1974-1993. It was founded as a Kirkbride plan mental psychiatric hospital. Kirkbride mental hospitals were built throughout the United States in the mid-1800s, according to the philosophies of Dr. Kirkbride. He believed in the moral treatment of patients and was a visionary before his time.

Over the years, the patients and care received at the Athens Lunatic Asylum changed. Walter Freeman, M.D., sometimes referred to as the “Father of the Lobotomy” performed over 200 frontal lobotomies at the Athens State Hospital. The hospital even began to harbor criminals, the most notorious being Billy Mulligan who was the first person to claim insantity due to multiple personalities.

Many of the patients housed on the property never returned home and have been buried in one of several cemeteries on the grounds which are accessible via a short hiking trail.

Many of the buildings that are part of the complex are now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, The Athens Asylum is known as The Ridges and is part of the Ohio University campus, as part of a mixed-use development that includes university offices and the Kennedy Museum of Art.

Tours of the inside are not available but if you can plan your trip to coincide with one of the two-hour exterior walking tours offered by the Southeast Ohio History Center you’ll learn about the history of the property, see one of the cemeteries, find out why there was once a resident alligator, and take a stroll along lover’s lane.  Like the Ohio State Reformatory that you’ll read about later in this article, The Ridges is said to have paranormal behavior.

Athens is an adorable town full of art, history and great places to eat. Check out this post for more things to do in Athens.

If you want to grab a bite to eat before you leave town, check out O’Betty’s Red Hot, Casa Nueva or Bagel Street Deli.

If you’d like to stay overnight, I suggest the Ohio University Inn and Conference Center where I stayed. You may also enjoy dinner at their onsite restaurant or pub.

These are My Jewels

1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215

Originally exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, this Civil War Monument now lives at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Sometimes called Ohio Jewels, the monument features seven life-size bronze statues of prominent figures in Ohio’s history. Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Ulysses Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Edwin Stanton, Salmon Chase, and Philip Sheridan are all represented.

The status is topped by Cornelia, a Roman mythology figure who once proclaimed “These are my jewels!” when referring to her sons. This quote has always struck me because I remember my grandfather saying the same phrase when talking about his seven daughters.

If you happen to visit Columbus on a Thursday at lunchtime from May through October, check out the Food Truck Food Court at the Columbus Commons for some amazing food. Any other time, check out Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German Village which serves authentic German food and cream puffs about the size of your head. If you don’t mind a hole-in-the-wall, Ringside Cafe serves some of the best burgers in the city.

While you’re in Columbus you may want to check out a few more places. The (Former) World’s Largest Gavel is only a block away from the Statehouse and The Topiary Park is the only park of its kind in the U.S.

If you want to make it an overnight, my husband and I have enjoyed stays at the following properties:

Hotel LeVeque, a gorgeous boutique hotel that is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection and conveniently located less than a block from the statehouse. You’ll find plenty to do in the area or, if you prefer, you can stay in, dine in the onsite restaurant or order room service. This property is pet friendly.

The Residence Inn Columbus Downtown is housed in a former bank from the 1920’s, the lobby features 40-foot ceilings and a breakfast room that operates out of the old safe. The staff make this a great pick and if you like bourbon or would like to indulge in a cocktail you’ll love the Buckeye Bourbon House.

The Graduate Hotel in the Short North is another of our favorite hotels. This unique property pays homage to OSU, John Glenn and all things Ohio. Eclectically decorated, one stay and you’ll be hooked on this hotel chain.

Ohio State Reformatory

100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905

Probably the most famous building designed by Levi Schofield is the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. Why is a reformatory so famous, you ask? Well, a little movie called “Shawshank Redemption” has something to do with it! The prison was a major filming location for the movie and a prominent stop along Ohio’s Shawshank Trail

A wall mural of The cast of the Shawshank Redemption

Levi Schofield designed the building in 1886 using elements of Victorian, Romanesque, and Queen Anne styles. It’s a striking building with an interesting history to boot. The building housed prisoners from 1896 until 1990, evolving from a reformatory for young first-time offenders to an overpopulated, maximum security state prison.

Today, the Ohio State Reformatory is open for daytime tours and special ghost tours throughout the year. Check here for discounted tickets

If you want to grab a bite to eat before you head to Cleveland, check out the Coney Island Diner, one of the oldest restaurants in Mansfield, Hudson & Essex for upscale dining or the Malabar Farm Restaurant if you plan to drive the Shawshank Trail. If you want something really unique, stop at the Buckeye Express Diner which is a short drive from Mansfield but well worth the stop.

If you want to stay overnight in the area, we have a few suggestions for you.

Check out the Chateau House if you plan to spend more than one night in the area and don’t mind a splurge. This castle-like structure is perfect for two or more families traveling together and is located in one of Mansfield’s premiere historic neighborhoods. I have not stayed here but it is on my list. You’ll understand why once you see the photos.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, you may want to check out the Safe House B & B which is about a ten minute drive from the prison.

Finally, if you prefer a hotel, check out TownePlace Suites by Marriott. A few minutes from the prison, this hotel is ideally located by shopping, the movie theater and many food options.

Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument

3 Public Square, Cleveland, OH 44114 

Levi Schofield was the chief architect and the sculptor of this once-controversial monument in Cleveland’s Public Square. The monument honors 9,000 soldiers from the county who fought for the Union in the Civil War. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument was dedicated in 1894 and was recently restored in 2008. The exterior of the monument captures various scenes from phases of the war. Additional scenes can be found inside the monument with the names of the honored soldiers. 

Kimpton Schofield Hotel

2000 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44115

One of our final stops may surprise you. You can actually spend the night in a Levi Schofield building. He designed the Schofield building in 1902. Originally built for offices, the building is now home to the Kimpton Schofield Hotel as well as condominiums known as the Schofield Residences (that are currently undergoing renovation as hotel rooms for extended stays. The red brick building got a major upgrade in 2016 as part of an ongoing restoration of downtown Cleveland’s buildings and public squares.

While some of the original architectural details have been modernized, the red building still watches proudly over downtown Cleveland. If you don’t have time for an overnight stay, you can also pop in for lunch or dinner at Betts, the newest culinary concept at the Kimpton Schofield hotel. 

If you’re planning to stay overnight in Cleveland on your Levi Schofield Road Trip, there really shouldn’t be any other option except to stay at the hotel he designed. Check out the rates at the Kimpton Schofield Hotel. It has excellent ratings.

Schofield Family Mausoleum

12316 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106

An ornate mausoleum in a cemetery

Our last stop in Cleveland happens to be Levi Schofield’s final resting place. The Schofield Family Mausoleum is located in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery. Schofield designed this grand mausoleum with elaborate details reflective of his larger projects. His wife was interred in 1914, and Levi Schofield followed just three years later.

The mausoleum is now covered in moss, which adds an ethereal feel to the cemetery. 

Secret Cleveland: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure is a helpful resource if you plan to spend some time in Cleveland.

If you’re looking for something to eat, check out Little Italy, right around the corner from the cemetery for some great options.

More Ideas of Things to do on the Levi Schofield Architecture Road Trip 

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

A Photo Tour of the East Cell Block of the Historic Mansfield Reformatory

The Historic Ohio State Reformatory- a Hometown Treasure

10 Things to do in Columbus, Ohio with Kids

The Ultimate Guide to Malabar Farm State Park from a Local

Kingwood Center

40+ Things to do in Cleveland with Teens

My Must Have Road Tripping Resources

A hands-free phone holder

My favorite road atlas

A car cooler for snacks and drinks



Have you seen my Roadside Attraction Coloring Book? It’s available for purchase through Amazon.

Doreen

Friday 22nd of July 2022

Tonya, This is an excellent trip. I like a of the details you include, which intices me to pack a bag and get on the road. Please do more of this type. I so enjoy your posts. Thank you for sharing interesting adventures.

Tonya Prater

Saturday 23rd of July 2022

Thank you so much, Doreen! I appreciate your kind words and I love that this post makes you want to road trip! I am working on a similar post that I hope to have finished soon so keep an eye out for it. Thanks for following along and if you have any questions, please let me know.

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