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March 2024 Restoration

March 2024 Restoration:  

The Bullpen 

When the Ohio State Reformatory opened its doors to the first 150 inmates in 1896, the area we know today as the bullpen was the original dining hall for the institution. The large gray wall on the south side of the bullpen is not original to the building. The dining hall at OSR consisted of 2 floors, instead of one.  

Very early on in the institution’s history, overcrowding became a major issue. In 1919, Warden Thomas Jenkins had a much larger dining hall built at the institution. The new dining hall had a capacity of 2,000 and was built entirely by inmates of the Reformatory. However, in 1938 changes were made yet again at the institution when Warden Arthur Glattke had another dining hall built near the west gate of OSR. This dining hall would remain until 1990, when the institution closed.  

After the Bullpen was abandoned as a dining hall, it became a central hub for guards at OSR. Guards at OSR were nicknamed “Bulls” and that’s how it got its name. The location of the Bullpen was seated perfectly between both the east and west cell blocks, solitary confinement, administration, and the yard. Before inmates could be sent out to yard, they were counted off, and given directions by a guard standing on a small stage in the center.  

In Hollywood, the bullpen was used in the Shawshank Redemption when all the new fish lined up on the famous yellow line as Warden Norton gave his famous “Put your trust in the Lord” speech. They also filmed Andy’s delousing scene, in the bullpen.  

Today, the bullpen is still a central hub, but for visitors deciding whether to visit the North Central Ohio Industrial Museum, Solitary Confinement, the West Cell Block, or escape Shawshank and visit the Museum Store or Scofield Cafe.  

When the Ohio State Reformatory closed in 1990, it would go on to sit officially abandoned for about 5 years. Time, weather, and no care over time can wreak havoc on a historic site and as time went on the large pieces of tile on the floor became warped and started coming loose.  

Today our restoration team has taken up many of the loose tiles and laid a new foundation for them. Once everything is properly set, the tiles will be placed back on the floor, with no more warping or fear of breaking.