Mansfield, Ohio has many attractions worth visiting, but perhaps the most well known is the Ohio State Reformatory but what many may not realize is that the prison is only one of many locations where the popular movie, the Shawshank Redemption was filmed. The Shawshank Trail leads you from the Shawshank prison to downtown Mansfield where you’ll see beautiful architecture and pass by our prized carrousel before moving on to the outskirts of Richland County and beyond. Take a day or a weekend to explore this little piece of Hollywood right here in North Central Ohio.
Are you a fan of the blockbuster movie Shawshank Redemption? If you answered no, bookmark this page, go watch the movie and then come back with a different answer! For the rest of you, did you know that many locations around Richland County Ohio stood in as Portland, Maine in the movie? And that there is now a tour called the Shawshank Trail where you can follow in the footsteps of Andy Dufresne and his prison pal, Red?
You can say the movie is kind of a big deal here in Mansfield, Ohio. Not only was the movie integral in saving the Ohio State Reformatory, the Shawshank Trail has boosted tourism drawing visitors from around the world to see our hometown treasure, the Shawshank Prison.
My own husband and several friends even had parts as extras in the movie, yet one more reason to endear the movie to me. But even if I didn’t know anyone with a bit part, it’s a pretty darn good movie and certainly ranks as one of my top five favorites.
What is the Shawshank Trail?
The Shawshank Trail is a driving tour that visits several of 15 filming locations from the 1993 movie, The Shawshank Redemption. While most of the scenes are located in North Central Ohio, if you want to officially finish the trail, you’ll need to book a trip to St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, which serves as Zihuatanejo in the final scene of the film. The trail was thought up by the creative folks at Destination Mansfield as a way to promote tourism in the region. They’ve got a great brochure to guide you as you follow the Shawshank Trail, and don’t forget to let them know you’re a fan, by using the hashtag #ShawshankTrail in your social media posts!
Shawshank State Prison
The bulk of the movie takes place at the Shawshank State Prison, which is actually the historic Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. The Reformatory housed up to 2,000 prisoners at a time until it was closed in 1990. It wasn’t long after that when location scouts for the Shawshank Redemption chose this as the site for the Shawshank State Prison. Just a few years later, the Reformatory showed up in the Harrison Ford movie “Air Force One” in 1997. Because of these two popular movies, the Ohio State Reformatory, now operated by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, offers a “Hollywood Tour” in addition to several other tours of the Reformatory.
The Bissman Building is a historic building in downtown Mansfield, built by Levi Schofield, the same architect as the Ohio State Reformatory. It’s only natural, then, that it was also featured in the Shawshank Redemption. The Bissman building originally served as the distribution center for the Bissman Company, a grocery chain.
The distribution business came to an end in 2000, but the building is still owned by the Bissman family, who even starred as extras during the filming of Shawshank Redemption. The first floor portrayed the offices of the “Portland Daily Bugle.”
The exterior of the Bissman Building was used as the Brewer Hotel, where fellow inmate Brooks goes upon his release from Shawshank. The building is also allegedly haunted, so you’re liable to run into some ghost hunters here. It’s open to the public, and donations are accepted for upkeep of the building.
When Red (Morgan Freeman) is paroled in the movie, he struggles with living outside the prison and one scene finds him daydreaming in a pawn shop window. He eyes the handguns, which could help him break his parole and go back to Shawshank, then his eyes fall upon a compass which eventually leads him to the buried treasure that Andy (Tim Robbins) told him to find. Today, the shop is Carrousel Antiques, a shop full of treasures from yesteryear in downtown Mansfield that is open seven days a week.
Central Park Mansfield
Just down the road from Carrousel Antiques in downtown Mansfield is Central Park, where you’ll find the park bench where Brooks sat to feed the birds. The site of the original bench is where the covered gazebo now stands. You’ll find a replica bench just a few feet away. The park also has playgrounds, gardens, and several monuments and a fountain worth viewing. So stop to take your photo on the bench and then make sure you spend a few minutes viewing the monuments on site before continuing on along the Shawshank Trail.
While this Mansfield theater did not appear in the Shawshank Redemption movie, it is where the 1994 Movie Premiere was held. The historic theater has been a fixture of downtown Mansfield since 1928 when it opened as a movie house. Today, it is a performing arts center that is also listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. If your timing is right, you just might catch a performance by the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra.
Snyder Road & Hagerman Road
As Red follows his compass to find Andy’s treasure, he hitchhikes out of town and is let out at the “Road to Buxton” which is actually the intersection of Snyder Road and Hagerman Road in Butler, Ohio. The location sits among many farm fields, so there isn’t a “destination” per se, at this stop, but it makes for a good photo opp of your journey along the Shawshank Trail, plus the town of Butler is a picturesque Midwest town just 20 minutes from Mansfield and less to Mohican State Park which offers a great view from the overlook, miles of hiking trails and a picnic area along the river.
Hagerman Road & Rt 95
Just a mile from the “Road to Buxton” scene, another filming location along Hagerman Road is where it meets Route 95. In the movie, this serves as the spot where Red’s bus leaves for Fort Hancock, Texas. As the road rises up a small hill, you’ll see the big red barn that Red’s bus passes by as it leaves town. You’re still out in the country at this point, but it’s a beautiful country to drive through!
Shawshank Oak Tree
You’ll really have to use your imagination at this stop, as the tree was destroyed in high winds in 2011 and 2016, so it’s no longer there. But the tree plays such a pivotal role in the movie, as the spot where Andy has buried a tin full of cash, which Red finds after his journey to the tree. The former site of the tree is private property but can be viewed from Malabar Farm across the road.
Malabar Farm State Park
In addition to the Oak Tree spot, Stops 9 and 10 along the Shawshank Trail are at Malabar Farm State Park. Stop 9, the Hollywood Connection is about the stars of the movie who received a tour here while filming the movie. Stop 10, is the Pugh Cabin at Malabar Farm State Park. In the opening scene of the movie, Andy sits in his car outside the cabin after discovering his wife’s betrayal. Today, the Pugh Cabin is a rental facility for meetings and gatherings, so check at the visitor’s center before heading out to the cabin. There are nice wooded hiking trails in the area of the cabin and Malabar Farm Inn is a great place to stop for a bite to eat.
19 West Main St, Ashland
After a nice drive through the Ohio countryside, the next stop on the Shawshank Trail brings you to Ashland, Ohio, another quaint Ohio town, just 25 miles from Mansfield. This historic building at 19 W Main St is now home to a wealth management firm, which is fitting as it is portrayed as Maine National Bank in the movie. Near the end of the movie, this is where Andy comes to withdraw money and close “his” accounts before joining Red at the beach.
Revivals 2 Thrift Store
The second stop in downtown Ashland is Revivals 2 Thrift Store. In the movie, this is portrayed as the Trailways Bus Station where Red buys his bus ticket for Fort Hancock, Texas. Today, it is a thrift store which features household items, clothing and children’s items. The store is closed on Sundays.
Wyandot County Courthouse
The next two stops along the Shawshank Trail is in Upper Sandusky, nearly 60 miles from Ashland. The Wyandot County Courthouse is where Andy’s conviction scene was filmed. This is still an active courthouse and public building, so while you can enter, you will need to find out if the court is in session before you enter the courtroom. The stately courthouse is located in downtown Upper Sandusky on the charming town square.
The final stop on the Shawshank Trail (unless you’re going to the Virgin Islands!) is the Shawshank Woodshop. In the movie, this was the woodshop where the prisoners worked. One memorable scene in the movie is when Andy locks himself in the warden’s office and plays Mozart over the PA system. You then see the prisoners in the wood shop stop what they are doing to listen intently to “Le Figaro” coming through the speakers. The building is not open to the public, but you can call ahead to arrange a private tour.
Looking for a more active way to see some of the Shawshank Trail? Check out the Annual Shawshank Hustle in June, a 7K race featuring all kinds of fun features from the movie, including actor autographs and several filming sites.
2019 promises to be a big year for the Shawshank Trail and city of Mansfield as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie, so expect some fun events around that milestone!
You may enjoy these posts as well:
A Glimpse inside the Creepy Interior of the Ohio State Reformatory
Where to find Outdoor Recreation near Mansfield, Ohio
5 Castles In Ohio you won’t want to Miss
Weekend Getaways in Ohio that Don’t Cost a Fortune
© 2018, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.