Mansfield offers travelers access to creepiest haunted venues

OSR Ghostly People in East Cell BlockMansfield, OH – Known as the Haunted Capitol, Mansfield, Ohio offers a range of frightful experiences that let visitors immerse themselves in the some of the creepiest spots in the Midwest. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to the north central Ohio town to see if they can handle the host of haunted destinations that have earned Mansfield its spooky reputation. These sites have been featured on national TV, including: Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” and Bio’s “My Ghost Story.”  For complete information on all of the region’s haunted and paranormal experiences, including videos, useful “ghost ratings,” site tours, ghost hunts and haunted houses are found via the Haunted Mansfield Guide at www.HauntedMansfield.com.  In addition, Private Paranormal Investigations of several local haunts can be scheduled for groups and individuals by calling (419) 295-5002 or emailing paranormalace@ymail.com.

Travelers come from around the globe come to brave the historic Ohio State Reformatory’s hair-raising, one-of-a-kind Haunted Prison Experience. “Supernatural III” starts Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 1.  Always described as “worth the trip,” the award-winning scarefest uses professional actors, Hollywood animatronics, props and special effects to create a haunted tour that goes far beyond any typical “haunted house.” Not appropriate for anyone under age 13, Haunted Prison Experience takes place Thursdays 7-11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m.-midnight; and Sundays 7-10 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m. and tickets are $20. More information is available at HauntedX.com. The Ohio State Reformatory has gained an international reputation as one of the most haunted places in America, while also being an architectural and cultural treasure. The Reformatory first opened in 1896 and, after housing 155,000 men in its lifetime, its 1990 closing left a nearly 125-year history (and spirits) in its old cells. Catapulted to fame after serving as the set location for the No. 1 movie of all time, “The Shawshank Redemption,” as well as other major motion pictures, year-round tours make the prison one of Ohio’s most popular attractions.

Built in the same year and designed by the same architect who drew up plans for the Reformatory, the 128-year-old Bissman Building started its life in downtown Mansfield’s historic district as a wholesale grocery warehouse. But experienced ghost hunters report that when the company closed its doors, “Not all of the employees left the building.” Today, travelers can tour the haunted Bissman Building, as guides unveil its unique history, stories of movies and videos filmed on site and chilling tales of its ghostly spirits. A Ghost Walk through the building is offered Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m. at just $10 per person. The event does not sell out and no reservations are required. Guests under 18 are welcome with parent/legal guardian. Tours also include a full-blown paranormal investigation. A public Ghost Hunt is offered Oct. 31 and private tours for groups of up to 30 are available by reservation. Tours begin at 7 p.m., typically run until 3 a.m. and cost $50 per person. They can be scheduled by emailing ghost@bissmanbuilding.com or calling (419) 295-5002.

Ghostly sightings have been reported by both staff and visitors at historic Malabar Farm State Park. Tales of flickering lights and appearances by the ghost of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and screenwriter Louis Bromfield intrigue ghost hunters. In addition to spirited visits by Mr. Bromfield, the farm is also home to the family house of Ceely Rose, who murdered her entire family in the summer of 1896. Visitors can hear the grisly story of The Ghost of Ceely Rose during outdoor multi-media Chautauqua-style performance events at 7 p.m. Oct. 2-3 and 9-10.

At the Mansfield Fire Museum, strange happenings, such as a fire truck side mirror that seems to move on its own, have been experienced by employees and visitors alike. Unexplained sounds occur when only one person is in the building. Lights flicker and shadow people have been reported during paranormal investigations. Open Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The free tour points out known paranormal hot spots and occurrences. Guests are also welcome to schedule private paranormal investigations at no cost that take place from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. by calling (419) 564-5531.

One block west and south of Public Square in Galion, just west of Mansfield, Brownella Cottage is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and the former home of religious-leader-turned-communist Bishop William M. Brown. Now guests are invited to use equipment to perform their own paranormal investigations, which have revealed strange voices, lights that turn off on their own and peculiar door slamming. The experiences have visitors asking if the now-deceased Bishop Brown still roams the halls.  Tours begin at Historic Grace Church in Galion and include a bit of history and an overview of paranormal equipment. Tours run 8 p.m.-midnight and can be scheduled by calling (419) 462-5672 or via email at cathym_75@hotmail.com.

Employees and patrons alike have reported many creepy encounters at Mansfield’s Renaissance Theater over the years. Footsteps have been heard on the elegant grand staircase and along the dark hallways and twisting corridors outside the second floor grand ballroom. Spectral figures have been spotted in the balcony. Disembodied voices, laughter and even music have been heard coming from the theatre – long after the audiences have gone. The projection booth is the purported haunt of “Pete” – who took up residence at the Renaissance shortly after his beloved projector was transplanted here from the demolished Madison Theatre down the street. Wall sconces in the lower lobby’s elegant marbled grand salon are said to have a mind of their own and, when the building is unlocked in the morning, are often found turned completely upside-down. Whispered voices have been heard in their catacomb-like rooms under the stage. And actors and crew have reported seeing a shadowy “woman in white” standing in the wings during performances. Perhaps the most haunted area of the theatre is the lobby, where theatre manager Edward Rafter was murdered in a botched robbery attempt on Oct. 30, 1929. A man, disguised in women’s clothing, shot Rafter four times, then fled into the night. For 80 years, witnesses have reported seeing a forlorn Rafter pacing back and forth along the marble floor. Some report seeing the ghost of his assailant, hiding menacingly in the darkest corner of the lobby. Tours point out these and other spots for paranormal occurrences, with guests then welcome to perform their own paranormal investigations, visiting backstage, the basement area, upstairs ballrooms and even camp out in restrooms.

A destination unlike any other, Mansfield and Richland County, Ohio’s wealth of unusual travel adventures and experiences, from visiting the working farm where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married, to overnight ghost hunts in a haunted former state prison and touring sites where “The Shawshank Redemption” and other Hollywood blockbuster movies have been filmed. Breathtaking scenery, rural and hometown experiences, as well as hiking, biking, golf, cross-country and downhill skiing, bird watching and loads of other outdoor adventures attract families and visitors of all ages.  For information or to order a Visitors Guide, consumers can call (800) 642-8282 or visit www.MansfieldTourism.com.

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Comp or press rate trips, unique photo, video and interview opportunities available. Contact Amy Weirick, Office: (614) 848-8380, Mobile: (614) 296-8513 or amy@weirickcomminications.com