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The History of MRPS

The History of MRPS…

by Nancy K. Darby

In 1990, the Ohio State Reformatory was planned for demolition.  The outbuildings and wall were to be taken down, but the cell blocks and the administrative building would remain to stand because of the high cost of their destruction.  A lack of funding serves as interesting bookends to the OSR’s history: insufficient money slowed construction, and the same problem prevented the facility’s complete demolition.  The Mansfield community saw an opportunity in the suspended demolition.  The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society (MRPS) was formed in 1995 as a grassroots effort to save and preserve the Ohio State Reformatory.  By the time of its formation, the wall and outbuildings had been demolished.  Because of the deteriorating condition of the building, the daunting task was at first met with skepticism.  

Over the next eight years, the state vacillated about plans for the building.  Finally, in 2000, the State of Ohio gave the building to the City of Mansfield, which in turn sold it to MRPS for $1.  This is when MRPS’ work began in earnest.  The goal of the society is to restore and preserve the building and its relics.  In 2014, the reformatory was designated as the official museum for the Ohio Corrections Department and is currently preparing rooms to display items from throughout Ohio’s corrections facility, including the original electric chair.