OHIO STATE PENITENTIARY
The Prison as it looked in 1995 (photo by Michele Martin)
In previous sections of "Haunted Ohio", we have discussed the hauntings that sometimes take place at prisons, jails and even halfway houses. These places of punishment can sometimes harbor both pathetic and malignant spirits. In one of Chris Woodyard's books, she makes brief mention of what must have been a truly terrifying, and haunted, place.
If prisons can be very haunted places because of the death and tragedy that can take place in them, then the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus must be one of the most haunted. The gray stone building dates back many, many years, although it stands empty and silent today. The prison closed down a number of years ago and public officials have yet to decide what they plan to do with the place.
If nothing else, it stands as a gruesome and tragic reminder to events of the past. On Easter Sunday, April 21, 1930, an inmate of the prison made an escape attempt by setting several fires. He thought that perhaps in the smoke and confusion he could slip away unnoticed. The cell blocks filled with black smoke and soon chaos ruled. Some have claimed that prison guards purposely allowed the cell doors to stay locked longer than necessary, but no one knows for sure. What is known is that over 300 convicts died that day inside of the prison.... many of them never even made it out of their cells.
Today, many people believe that the otherwise empty cell blocks are haunted by the spirits of the men who died in the fire. They say that if you stand outside in the prison yard, you can hear the roar of phantom flames coming from inside.... and the horrible screams of men burning alive in their cells.
Note: I just recently learned the the old prison was destroyed a short time back. Apparently, the state of Ohio had tried to get the voters to take a tax increase to build a new multiplex arena on the site of the prison but the voters turned it down. Investors eventually came up with the money and then a battle ensued with the historical society about whether or not to destroy the old building. A compromise was reached to leave just the main entry building in place but the contractors ended up destroying it anyway. There is nothing left of it today. Thanks to Kellie Doyle for the new information.
Another Note: Another website visitor also sent this information in early 2000: The prison is destroyed and
now it is a parking lot of the Columbus BlueJackets (Home of the newest NHL hockey that is first established for Ohio that is under construction and is due to open in fall 2000) which the Stadium is also built on far north of the front building that the Prison was built on. It has presences there if you go to the parking lot during the night. Strange things would appear at the parking lot. I have been there watching the prison getting destroyed and it aches my heart seeing it go. I have seen things move around or screams in there.
The old prison was located in Columbus, Ohio.
Copyright 2000 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
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